A. Bright Idea’s creative minds are always staying on top of trends and tools in the industry to ensure our creativity and perspectives stay fresh and innovative for our clients. In the spirit of sharing, we’ve compiled a quick list that our team uses as a go-to for inspiration and ideas. If you find yourself stumped, try checking out one of these sites or turn to one of our creative teams – marketing, graphic design or interactive – for some of our creative insight.

Advertising & PR


Graphic Design


Super Bowl Commercials

This year’s Super Bowl commercials may have covered a variety of themes from sexy models to cute kids, wacky animals to celebrity cameos, but there’s one thing they all had in common – user generated content and a call-to-action for the audience via social media.

Even before the big game, advertisers were using social media to reveal sneak peeks of their upcoming ads to capitalize on the excitement and build brand buzz through custom hashtags, Facebook pages and websites. Some hashtags trending prior to and during Sunday’s game included:

Audi: #BraveryWins

VW: #GetHappy

Pepsi: #PepsiHalftime

Toyota: #WishGranted

Coke: #CokeShowgirls #CokeBadlanders #CokeCowboys #CokeChase

Doriots: #CrashTheSuperBowl

Samsung: #TheNextBigThing

Mio: #ChangeStuff

Axe: #InSpace

Budweiser: #Clydesdales

Budlight: #HereWeGo

GoDaddy: #YourBigIdea

Pistachios: #CrackinStyle

Speed Stick: #HandleIt

Tide: #MiracleStain


When it came time for the big reveal there were a few commercials that really stole the show by utilizing social and interactive media well, generating a greater connection among the audience and brand.

Which is the best part – the cream or the cookie? Oreo’s hilarious whisper commercial called on viewers to ‘choose your side’ through Instagram. The Oreo Instagram account shows images of just about anything made out of either the cream filling or the cookie, inviting viewers to add their own image with the tag #cookiethis or #creamethis. Oreo may recreate the item using your favorite part of the Oreo.


Taco Bell
What do retirement age seniors like to do after a night of partying? Go to Taco Bell of course! The surprise storyline in this commercial, all set to the Spanish version of Fun’s, ‘We Are Young,’ works well with Taco Bell’s current “Live Más” campaign. The fast food restaurant invites the audience to go to their Facebook page for coupons, photos and more.


Coke had previewed their commercial featuring the showgirls, badlanders and cowboys racing to the coveted beverage well before the big game. The beverage company encouraged viewers to go online to vote for the ending of the commercial to air during the Super Bowl. At their custom website, viewers voted for their favorite group, while at the same time sabotaging the other two groups by sharing their selection on Facebook or Twitter. In the end the #CokeShowgirls came out on top and had the privilege to ‘open happiness.’


As sponsor of the halftime show, Pepsi called on viewers to submit photos for a chance to be a part of the performance intro. The user-generated content introduced Beyonce while associating the brand with a direct connection to their audience.


Axe Apollo Space Academy
The lifeguard may have saved the distressed woman from a shark attack, but nothing beats an astronaut. The Axe Apollo commercial included the element of surprise, while also announcing a special contest where viewers can actually win a trip to space. The new Axe Apollo has teamed with SpaceExc to send a few select winners to fly into orbit. With a custom website and hashtag #InSpace, Axe Apollo certainly caught the audience’s attention with a creative commercial and turned it into social media engagement.


The Budweiser Clydesdale commercials are classic, and this year the beverage allowed you to tweet @Budweiser with the hashtag #Clydesdales to help name the baby Clydesdale seen in the commercial. The commercial certainly tugs at the heartstrings, showing the man’s horse running to see him at the very end – what love! Who wouldn’t want to jump on Twitter to name that beautiful horse?


Doritos, which has claimed a #1 spot in recent online commercial rankings, deployed its “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign again, gathering user-generated commercials and inviting the audience to vote on their favorite commercials to air during the big game. The “Goat for Sale” was our favorite!


The Lincoln “Road Trip” commercial encouraged viewers to ‘steer the script’ and see what the ending brings. They also asked viewers to tweet about their most memorable road trips – although big miss for Lincoln – no Twitter handle or hashtag was included in the commercial. How do we know how to categorize our tweet?


In the Mercedes Benz spot, Kate Upton invites you to go to MercedesBenzUSA on Facebook to see the all-new seductive CLA Benz coming in September. The commercial is a pure glitz and glam display with celebrities like Kate Upton and Usher, but captures the audience with an affordable price point.


The comical interaction between Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen was entertaining, as was the direct approach to call out other advertisers gimmicks. The commercial showcased smartphone and tablet devices, while utilizing #TheNextBigThing and social tools through the devices.


It couldn’t be expected, but advertisers also took advantage of the unique opportunity the game’s third-quarter blackout provided, jumping quickly on social media with real-time Twitter campaigns. Oreo, Tide, Bud Light, Audi, VW and Speed Stick—were some of our favorites.

  • Oreo – “You can still dunk in the dark”
  • Tide – “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out”
  • Audi – Told its followers they were sending some of their LED headlights to the Superdome (which is sponsored by competitor Mercedes-Benz)


Notable Mentions
While the below commercials didn’t necessarily include social media, they were still some of the most talked about in social media.

  • Jeep: A tug at the heartstrings, welcoming home troops – “Whole Again”
  • Ram: Guts. Glory. Ram. – “God made a farmer”
  • E*TRADE: Smart talking baby tells you to – “Save It”
  • Tide: A 49ers fans glory squashed at the hands of a Ravens fan (much like the big game!) “Miracle Stain”

Thriving brands recognize the importance of Facebook and engaging its audiences and connecting with people interested in their product or service to reach a large audience. Facebook gives businesses the potential to share content and to grow awareness and recognition of their brand. For a lot of brands, Facebook really is grassroots marketing and a word-of-mouth opportunity to gain attention for your products or services. If one person on Facebook interacts with your business, all of their friends have the opportunity to see that interaction, snowballing your reach.

It doesn’t take a savvy marketer to launch a successful presence on Facebook. Honest interactions and a handle on your brand are a good place to start. A few other tips we’ve picked up when using Facebook as a tool to build brands:


1. Be consistent in content

Not only in the content you post, but also in your imagery. Ensure the messages you post are consistent with the brand message you include on your brochures, website, commercials, billboards, radio, in your office and verbally face-to-face.

  • Not every single post needs to be specifically about your product, service or business—but see if you can somehow relate it back to something relevant to your business or that your fans would be interested in.
  • When applicable, utilize your business logo or messaging could be included on imagery you post. This ensures that if one of your fans ‘shares’ the post, the friends of that person will know where the content came from and may like your page too.
  • Learn the dimensions of the different Timeline areas such as the cover photo, profile image, highlighted post and page window. It is a big turnoff if someone comes to your page and the logo is cutoff in the profile picture or content is covered up in the cover image by the profile picture box.

Some third-party Facebook apps allow businesses to create customized pages including welcome pages, video channels, polls/contests, Instagram feeds, Twitter feeds and more. Pages can create a fully branded page with whatever content they want and set that as the default ‘Home’ screen for visitors to their page. This is basically another outlet for you to share customized content, like your website and brochure.


2. Learn tricks and tips

Facebook recently introduced a scheduling tool, allowing users to set messages to post in advance. Scheduling ensures you don’t have to worry about keeping up with Facebook while you’re on the road, traveling, in meetings or elsewhere. Brands can set up the social media for the day or even the week and let it post on schedule.Still, take note of timing.

  • Be responsive to inquiries and comments.
  • Take note of when your posts get the most interaction. Sometimes, the best time to post is when you or an employee is not in the office Monday thru Friday 8-5. A lot of people utilize Facebook in the evenings, early in the morning and on weekends.
  • Utilize new Timeline tools such as ‘pin to top,’ for current messaging or promotions, ‘highlighting,’ allowing the message to span across the full Timeline window and ‘reposition photo,’ allowing the user to adjust what part of the image shows up in the preview.

Know that it’s okay to check out other pages. Learn what your competitors or other top Facebook brands are doing and see if you can generate a campaign that makes sense for your business. Sports teams often watch video of their opponents before playing them to see how they could improve themselves—it’s no different for checking out other brands on Facebook.


3. Know your audience

Take advantage of the  insights tool, a great, and sometimes, eye-opening feature Facebook offers to pages. If one of your social media managers is a 24-year-old male, make sure he knows that 55% of the 14,000 likes to one of your brand’s pages are females aged 35-64, and 72% of the total being female. Your message should then match your audience.

This is an actual occurrence on our SomethingAboutSonoma.com Facebook page. It makes sense, as those looking to spend a vacation or trip in Wine Country are the women who are trying to plan a trip with their loved one, family or girlfriends. Once you figure out the audience, it might change the type of content you post and how you write the messaging.

The insights tool also allows you to set goals for the number of followers, interactions or overall reach for your page or individual posts. Figure out realistic goals, and set new milestones once you achieve them.


4. Change things up

In order to generate more revenue, Facebook allows businesses to promote themselves even further through Facebook ads and promoted posts. Both can be used effectively with the right tactics. Advertising on Facebook is not just for businesses with deep pockets either, with tools allowing users to set daily or monthly budget limits and provide filters allowing you to choose your target audience.

Facebook recently changed its news feed algorithm for showing business page content causing a decline in interaction. Unfortunately, less people are seeing business posts in their news feed. In order for a post to be more likely to show up in fans news feed, they need to have previous interaction with your page. The Facebook algorithm knows if a fan has never or rarely commented on your photos, shared a post or liked a post, so your content will be less likely to show up for that person. So, in order to spread your brand further, you must generate interaction with your posts.

Realizing businesses were mad about this new trend, Facebook launched the promoted posts feature—allowing business to pay for their posts to be seen. Similar to Facebook advertising, this could help your brand get a kick-start to gaining attention and interaction. If you pay for a few posts and get people to interact with a post, your future posts will be more likely to be seen by them. Businesses or brands could have thousands of likes on their page, but if interaction is down and nobody is seeing their content, what is the point? Monitor the virality of your posts to ensure the content you are generating is getting seen, or something needs to change.

Businesses should also change the cover image on the page occasionally, as it would become stale to repeat visitors if left alone. Utilize seasonal imagery, promotions, different products or different branding images for the cover photo.


Stay up to date on trends, rules, new tricks or features with Facebook to ensure your business continues to build an audience and become more successful.

 Social Media Services


As social media continues to grow, we find ourselves needing even more time in the day to keep up! That’s why the Quick Fix for this edition focuses on managing the demands of social media to ensure you are hitting all of your audiences while being efficient and effective. As social media strategists, here are our top tips for taming your time on social media so you can focus your attention on other things!

  • Link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so when you update one it automatically posts to the other. This avoids the need to make posts to two separate accounts.
  • Set up HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage all of your accounts in one place, rather than signing in and out of each platform as you go.
  • Schedule your Facebook and/or Twitter posts through sites like HootSuite or TweetDeck, to post at specific times throughout the day. You can pick whatever day and time you would like! This allows you to ensure your accounts are kept up-to-date even when you might not have time throughout the day to get to them.

A. Bright Idea Twitter Graphic

And be sure to check out the pages of some of our client’s who are implementing these tips, including:




A. Bright Idea Twitter Strategy


Just in time for the presidential election, Twitter has recently launched a new service called Twitter Political Index or Twindex. Unlike information provided by traditional polling companies, Twindex harnesses the power of Twitter’s massive user date to monitor and report on users’ moods to provide real-time presidential candidate trends. Using an established baseline, Twitter’s data partner Topsy, analyzes tweets from users on our presidential candidates, monitors sentiment, compares the two candidates and assigns a point value to each.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, Twitter user data does actually reflect the public/voter trends –  proven during this past year’s primaries. Twitter saw trends in user activity supporting Mitt Romney, while Rick Santorum’s declined – and look who’s representing the GOP now.

So what does this mean? Are we headed into an age where technology will impede further into the traditional election process? Will electoral votes need to be gathered if we can process data aggregately? That’s probably unlikely, but technology really is proving to show a new era of data collection and endless uses for it. With more and more users of social media expressing opinions and providing feedback, the ability for organizations – political, commercial, nonprofit, etc. – to use this data and learn from it, such as adjusting key messages, branding and public perception, is amazing.

Nonetheless, whether you’re blue or red, donkey or elephant, this year’s election will prove to be an exciting one and you have an even greater ability to be part of the process!

Check it out! CNN.com: How do you feel about Romney and Obama? Ask the ‘Twindex’ http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/02/tech/social-media/twitter-new-political-index/index.html?hpt=te_r1


With all the constant “tips” on the absolute latest social media tactics that appear in our inbox on a daily basis, we recently happened upon an insightful article titled 5 lies about social media, by Samantha Collier in PR News. Among some of the myths Collier dispels, including “You’re guaranteed a new client within X amount of days,” one in particular stood out for us:

“Social media is free.”

Don’t get us wrong – social media is a fantastic way to even garner organic support from your customers. You remember – that support you didn’t have to pay for because someone actually likes your product or service, and is willing to give you honest feedback without a chance to “win a $500 gift card?”

Still, have you considered the amount of time you need to dedicate to a legitimate and fruitful social media presence? The old saying “time is money” rings true here as well.

As Collier points out:

“This is one of the biggest misconceptions of them all. Social media is not free. It takes time, and the last I checked, time equals money. Even if you decide to keep your social media marketing in-house, you will always be paying someone to monitor your accounts.”

When considering your social media strategy, ensure that your budget accounts for the several-plus hours per week it takes to sustain, thrive and measure. This means that those labor hours you’re applying towards your tweets, posts and pins should be viewed as an investment in your organization. Investing in your reputation and client relationships earns more than revenue – it earns trust – something money simply cannot buy.

Ensure that your leadership or client understands that including social media as part of your communication strategy is a budget line-item, but also assure them of all the meaningful aspects that a two-way communication relationship yields with your client base.

This may not be the latest and greatest “tip” on social media – but rather old school advice that you need to remain budget conscious when considering your communication tools and tactics.


By now, we’re sure you have heard of Pinterest, the website allowing users to ‘pin’ their interests from all over the web into one place and profile. Users create boards representing different categories, like ‘favorite food,’ ‘wedding ideas,’ ‘ideas for my home,’ ‘cool decorations’ or ‘places I want to travel.’ It’s as easy as placing the provided bookmark ‘Pin It’ on your toolbar, and whenever you see a photo you like, you pin it to one of your boards. Each board you create could have ideas and images from a hundred different websites, all in one space. Pinterest users are posting content related to your industry every day, and you can take advantage of this growing audience.


A few weeks ago, while looking at website analytics for A. Bright Idea’s website SomethingAboutSonoma.com, I saw a few incoming traffic sources from Pinterest. This meant that people came to our website from Pinterest. SomethingAboutSonoma.com is a travel website dedicated to Sonoma County to promote tourism. Wanting to find out more about this new traffic, I discovered a photo that we posted on our website was on someone’s ‘Favorite Places’ board. That’s when the wheels started spinning and I finally knew what the other social media experts were talking about; telling us that brands and businesses can use Pinterest to increase their reach, audience and traffic.


To use Pinterest, you must be ‘invited’, but chances are, at least one of your friends uses the site and can send you an invite. I quickly invited my work email to join Pinterest and created an account for SomethingAboutSonoma.com. I then created boards including Sonoma Style, Food, Wine, Favorite Places & Spaces, Sonoma Weddings and more, and started pinning. Our strategy was to start with our own website photographs, providing e a link back to where the photo lives on our site—our chance to get people from Pinterest to our website. We then moved onto sharing other websites beautiful photography on our boards for things we love. This allows us to build our community and share inspiration on our boards to become a ‘resource’ for finding great things. We quickly got followers and people interested in wine, Sonoma and other topics re-pinning our photos on their own boards, spreading a link back to our website like wildfire.


Like magic, I saw our incoming traffic increase significantly with Pinterest as the referral website. So, how do you use Pinterest effectively for your own business?


Know your market

What would your target audience be interested in? Whether it’s the latest and greatest technology features and gadgets, beautiful hairstyles for weddings, unique cupcake recipes, ideas for the office, general inspiration, event and tradeshow booth ideas or more, pin the right products and services. Business profiles also have the ability to ‘follow’ other boards and users—so build your audience by following others in hopes they will follow you.


Break up your content

Use specific titles for board categories. This allows users to follow specific boards they are interested in and not be bombarded with all of your ideas and content. It also helps keep your ideas organized.


Use hashtags and keywords with your content

Those searching in Pinterest and in Google can find your content through the keywords and tags you use. For example: #travel #style #technology #Apple #food #design. Use multiple hashtags, but beware of using too many or it will look like spam.


Provide links

Providing links to your website about a specific pin will help users find out more information by visiting your website.


Reciprocate your action

Use Pinterest to upload your own pins, but also reciprocate interaction with those you follow by commenting, ‘re-pinning’, and liking others posts. This will encourage others to comment, re-pin and like your posts building your audience.


Use Pinterest Internally

Businesses can use Pinterest for internal inspiration and discussion. Create a board with multiple contributors (your employees) and allow them to pin their ideas and thoughts about a product, event, campaign, book, seminar and more to get ideas flowing.


Pinterest has become an effective tool to drive traffic to your website, build SEO, build your brand and community and has seen skyrocketing popularity over the last few months.


To discuss more Pinterest strategy and what we can do for your business, contact A. Bright Idea at info@abrightideaonline.com or call 410-836-7180.


Since we care about your brand and want to keep you updated with pertinent industry information, we wanted to make you aware that all Facebook Business Pages will automatically switch to the ‘Timeline’ interface on March 30, 2012. All business pages will utilize a new format, with special features, including:


  • Square profile photo format for your logo, different size profile pictures should be adjusted so that they do not get cut off by dimension restrictions
  • An area for a ‘cover photo’ at the top of your page, this can be customized
  • Areas to promote sections of your page including photos, likes, videos and custom pages/apps
  • Timeline of your wall posts, allowing users to scroll through the months and years your page has been present


In addition, businesses can choose to show the most important features of your page first and choose the order of your apps and page information. The timeline allows businesses to ‘star’ certain posts for a wider view and to ‘pin’ certain posts to the top of your page, allowing viewers to see what is most important.


The administration panel will also allow you to manage features, notifications and insights in one place.


We hope you’ll find the new format provides you with additional ways to connect you’re your audience and further your brand. If you find that the new Timeline transition doesn’t fit into your timeline of planned Facebook updates, please let us know and we’ll be glad to provide a proposal for assistance. We’re experienced in the new timeline platform and can help your business capitalize on the updated Facebook features for your brand and business page. A. Bright Idea will help businesses manage this transition to ensure a smooth and clean platform to maintain your relationship with Facebook followers.


Arguably the most popular brand in America, McDonald’s came under scrutiny as of late with a Twitter campaign turned negative. As USA Today reported , during a social media effort to encourage Tweeters to share their positive experiences from McDonald’s, the megabrand developed the hashtag #McDStories. Although intended for positive, the #McDStories hashtag quickly turned to a tell-all of the awful and even disgusting experiences customers had at a McDonald’s location. Obviously not the point McDonald’s was driving toward, they quickly pulled the hashtag campaign and began a bit of damage control.

Social media thrives as an open forum; an important medium for engaging customers and audiences.  While critics or negativity might appear, a strong strategy will prepare a brand for handling the adversity and building yet more trust with loyal customers.


Develop a strategy

A strategy may be designed to engage customers in sharing personal anecdotes in order to define how engrained the brand has become for those customers. The forum still exists for those who are not brand loyalists. With the proper planning, negative responses could be met with a customer service approach to address the grievance offline and in a one-on-one exchange. Potential questions to consider:

  • What key messaging will you use?
  • How will you respond to negative responses?
  • How will you tout the positive?
  • How will you monitor you followers, content, responses, etc.?


Developing a plan to address these questions will help you in implementing a strategic social media plan, aimed at promoting your business and services in a positive light, controlling the chatter about your business from behind the scenes and never being caught off guard.

There’s no doubt McDonald’s had a strategy in place when the #McDStories campaign launched, and by monitoring responses, they were prepared to end the banter and it remained a mere percentage of the overall social media discussion about the organization.


Use specific criteria

In creating a social media campaign or promotion, be very specific with your audience about what you want or expect from their responses, eliminating room for interpretation. For example, McDonalds could have garnered more positive responses by simply specifying their hashtag with something like #McDfaves or #McDsBest. This clearly tells the audience to respond with positive experiences and removes the openness to simply share a story – positive or negative.


Turn the negative to positive

With social media, you can’t ignore the fact that there will be negative mentions about your business. The open platform is a perk for users and they often take full advantage. Be prepared to take the negative and turn it to a positive by addressing from a customer service perspective. For example, in McDonalds situation, they could respond to the negative #McDStories Tweeters and offer to make their negative experience into a positive with a discount or free offer. This makes the end user feel heard and important. They’ll appreciate the attention and remember that positive act over the negative they first experienced.


USA Today article: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-01-28/cnbc-mcdonalds-twitter-backfire/52824472/1

AutoCorrect – not always correct.

The AutoCorrect feature, originally developed by Microsoft, gained additional popularity when introduced by Apple for the iPhone in 2007. It’s designed to automatically detect and correct typos, misspelled words and incorrect capitalization. Considered a feature of smartphones now, the AutoCorrect function has been known to produce strange (and sometimes inappropriate) results leaving it to users to “correct the auto-correct” changes made.

With the intention of making our lives easier and communicating faster, faster communications are not necessarily better, especially when a machine is doing the interpreting. In an article on CNN.com, AutoCorrect was the source of panic when a retired couple decided to go on a month-long trek through Nepal, keeping their daughter and son-in-law up to date by checking in at local Internet cafés. The first message their daughter received read: “Help. Visa bad. Can you send money to water? Autopsy not working.”

Needless to say their daughter panicked and a 16-hour effort ensued to clarify the situation. What the couple meant was that they couldn’t use their VISA credit card to pay the water bill and AutoCorrect had changed the intended word “auto pay” to “autopsy.”

With more and more communications being conducted via text-based sources, technology has offered tools to make these interactions happen better, faster and more accurate – but nothing’s perfect. According to CNN, the United Nations International Telecommunication Union cited that approximately 200,000 text messages were sent every second in 2010, and more than 107 trillion emails are sent every year, which no doubt produced countless instances of miscommunication – many of which were human error, but also a good many prompted by technology.

According to a social strategist at Mashable.com, these kinds of mistakes are a natural part of learning a new communication technology. When you think about it, it’s true. We still encounter people not understanding the appropriate use of “Reply All” in email, which was highlighted in this 2011 Bridgestone Super Bowl commercial, and when Facebook first launched there were plenty of misdirected posts on users walls that were intended for a private message string. Now we are on to the horror stories of bad texts and emails due to AutoCorrect.

Reply All advertisement for Superbowl XLV

Because we reach more and more people via text-based communications and because they’re permanent (in writing) there’s more reason to ensure our language, words and phrases are accurate when communicating.

AutoCorrect has been the topic of several humor websites that allow users to upload images of funny text messages based on the inaccuracies of the spell check and AutoCorrect on the iPhone, iPod Touch, via email, Android and other smartphones. Taking a peek as some of these interactions may give you a chuckle, but it should also remind you to slow down the pace for a minute – or be ready, and hope the recipient of your message has a good sense of humor.