Wendy's gets real. Twitter goes wild. And sales?

Sass is subjective. We know authenticity connects, but how straight fire must our posts be to win the hearts of our consumers? Do we write with a loud voice at the risk of upsetting our audience? And at the end of the day, does it even matter? Can sass increase profits?

Exhibit A: Wendy’s bites back.

Wendy’s has a history of playful confrontation (Where’s the beef?). More recently, the fast-food brand used its Twitter account to respond to an unruly customer in early 2017. Their response went viral.

Wendy’s identifies its Twitter voice as a “challenger with charm,” keeping a cool head while not shying away from honesty. When they broke away from the formal PR strategy, consumers ate it up. Instead of friendly jabs at the competition, this brand is taking jabs at consumers.

The outcome

After the first tweet, the fire burned for the next few days as consumers wanted to talk to this new, sassy Wendy.

Image result for wendy's sassy tweets

However, the streak ran for less than a week before Wendy’s Twitter returned to status quo. In this spike, 95 percent of activity came from replying to users. People wanted to interact with a brand, and that’s a beautiful thing.

This isn’t the first audacious act toward consumers. People seem to prefer the humanized voice of Wendy’s, and other brands that dish out ‘real talk.’ Screenshots of customer/brand exchanges could end up on everyone’s Twitter feed, or blogs like ours.

Salt is in the air, but how are the sales? Terrible, actually.

The full report details an almost $100 million drop in Wendy’s revenue from 2016. While this has less to do with tweets and more with fewer company-owned resturants, it proves that cheeky personas aren’t able to save a business. The company has been going through a rough patch as other resturants, like Taco Bell and Subway, take the lead in sales.

What’s next

Why didn’t this work? Well, it’s hard to see a real difference if you only change your strategy for a few days. Over time, the continued sass could lead to a buildup in sales, or maybe none at all. We wouldn’t know, since this tactic is so new for Wendys. Is it even possible on Twitter, where trends come and go so fast no one would be interested in an attitude for that long? Could be.

By April, the company had switched up tactics again. The tag #nuggsforcarter went viral after a young teen went on a mission to get 18 million retweets to win free nuggets for a year.

Like before, this could be a game chagner. Perhaps that is the ultimate creative strategy of Wendy’s: listening. In these instances, they have shifted to pushing for dialogue, rather than pushing messages. How will it reflect in the net quarter? Time will tell.

As of now, things seem to be business as usual for the company. If you want some snide comments from Wendy’s, you’re about six months too late. Yet that doesn’t mean they stopped the sly jokes altogether.

So, what’s this mean for your business? A bit of attitude may not drive up profits, but it may ramp up your brand engagement. If you’re considering adding some spice to your social, go for it. Keep it light and have some fun. You might just grab your two days of fame.

Weekly Recap - June 2, 2017

Raise your hand if you’d like more people checking out your content. Take a look around. You’re in good company. Every Marketer is looking for that prospect juice. You may find insight in these seven tips, complements of Search Engine Journal. Need a little creative pick-me-up? Look no further than this collection of May’s best. Think you’re mom’s favorite? Sorry, Instagram. Try harder.


8 of the top marketing challenges marketers face today [new data]. And more importantly, what to do about them.

7 tricks no one told you about content promotion. No company wants to be less popular. Get more clicks with some tips on promotion.

10 of the best ads from May: Hot dogs, rhinos, and an accidental viral hit. Learn from the best, from Play-Doh to Sweden.

More than 90 percent of U.S. moms have a social media account. You can never have enough data!

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

A healthcare marketer’s cheat sheet: What to advertise, and when. We know all about winter flu season, Heart Month and World Health Day, but what about other “seasons” that healthcare marketers could capitalize on?

THE Topic of conversation

Communicating with Visuals - Visual communication. Did you know that 93 percent of communication is visual? Amplify your marketing and discover how your brand can communicate visually. Download our latest free guide, "Communicating with Visuals."


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When agency work feels more like a mission.

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Making a difference.

It’s a powerful motivator. Positive change is the primary goal of most of our clients—whether encouraging healthier behaviors, job growth, financial literacy, sustainable communities, and more. It’s the kind of work that feels more like a mission than a job.

Like our recent work with Reading Works, a Detroit-based nonprofit dedicated to improving adult literacy. Reading Works collaborates with community impact partners like Focus Hope and Southwest Solutions to teach adults to read so that they can enjoy a better life and greater opportunities.

The cause is critically important.  One in three adults in Metro Detroit reads below a sixth grade level—twice as bad as the national average. The problem of low literacy is even worse in Detroit where it impacts 40 percent of adults.

Adult illiteracy casts a long shadow. Children of low-literacy parents are 87 percent more likely to be growing up in poverty. When adults learn to read well, it’s life changing. Increased adult literacy corresponds to decreased poverty, decreased crime, reduced overall health care burden, increased child literacy, long-term economic growth and increased per-capita income.

Moreover, improving adult literacy is key to Detroit’s revival. A great workforce, robust neighborhoods and confident children succeeding in the classroom depend on it.

Still, adult illiteracy is overshadowed by other causes. And most people aren’t aware of the magnitude of the problem, according to a recent informal Brogan Talks to Women survey. Nor are they familiar with Reading Works.

  • 40 percent are surprised to learn that one in three adults in Detroit read below sixth grade level.
  • 12 percent have heard of Reading Works.

But people are ready to lean in and learn more. They’re especially interested in its impact on poverty, job skills, crime and community revitalization. Of the 133 respondents surveyed:

  • 96 percent agree or strongly agree that adult literacy is “critical to addressing employment, education…healthcare, citizenship, incarceration and neighborhood revitalization.”
  • 89 percent are compelled by the fact that children of low literacy adults are far more likely to grow up in poverty.
  • 87 percent are motivated by the statement “adults who achieve reading proficiency qualify for better jobs that can move their children and families out of poverty.”

These insights helped inform our creative strategy to bolster awareness and spark action, beginning with a short video to frame the issue. The video was launched earlier this month as part of Reading Works’ bid to win up to $100,000 from A Community Thrives.

Take a look and let us know your thoughts. (And vote for Reading Works through May 12, 2017.) We’ll be reshaping this creative for other channels to connect with volunteers and donors. For more of our social marketing work, visit our portfolio.

African Americans and banks: It's complicated.

African Americans and banks: It's complicated.


It’s how financial institutions refer to consumers who have no checking or savings account. Those who have an account and interact with payday lenders and other alternative financial services are called “underbanked.”

There’s lots of research connecting unbanked and underbanked to poverty. In other words, consumers with stronger financial institution relationships are generally more financially secure. This because they have access to affordable credit, savings products and resources.

At least a quarter of American households are unbanked or underbanked, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And nearly half of African American households are unbanked or underbanked.

Why the disparity? According to CEB Iconoculture research, the primary factors are access, assets and attitudes.

Access, assets and attitudes.

Bank branches are generally less convenient to African American consumers (MagnifyMoney Research on Bank Branch Presentation, February 2016). There are 40.6 bank branches for every 100,000 people who live in majority white counties in the U.S., compared to 32 branches located in majority African American counties.

Then there’s the issue of wealth. African American families on average have less household income with which to work. A study released this year by Demos found that African American two-parent families have half the wealth of white single parents. Specifically,

  • The median two-parent black family had $16,000 in wealth.
  • The median single-parent white family had $35,800 in wealth (two-parent white families had $161,300).

These factors and more prompt African American consumers to be more likely to manage their personal finances with little or no outside help, according to CEB Iconoculture research. When asked why they prefer a DIY approach, African American respondents were more likely to point to the following reasons than the total survey audience:

  • My finances are simple (41 percent of African American respondents agreed versus 34 percent of all respondents.)
  • I don’t have much money to manage (35 percent of African American respondents versus 25 percent of all respondents.)
  • I can’t afford personal financial services (24 percent of African American respondents versus 19 percent of all respondents

Three ways banks and credit unions can help the unbanked and underbanked.

How can banks and credit unions connect to the underserved market? Flip the challenges and follow consumer values.

  1. Promote mobile banking. Mobile banking can help underserved consumers gain more access to financial services, according to an FDIC study. In addition to added convenience, mobile banking can give consumers greater control over finances. Alerts and tracking tools make it easier to avoid fees and track finances. First banks and credit unions must convince consumers that it’s safe to open an account online, which has thus far proven challenging.
  2. Become a trusted advisor. Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship and imperative when money is involved. When it comes to financial services, African Americans consumers have practical expectations, according to CEB Iconoculture research. They are: do a good job managing my money, provide transparency, security and stick to the products and services that I need. Finally, demonstrate success.
  3. Accentuate the positive. The values most positively differentiated for African Americans compared to all U.S. consumers can provide important insights. They are belief, individuality, ambition and growth—ostensibly individual achievement and growth. African American Millennials tend to be more optimistic than their peers, according to a study by Richards/Lema and the University of Texas, Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations.

Sign up for the free Brogan Marketing Statement for quarterly news and insights about financial services marketing.

Weekly Recap - March 24, 2017

Let’s talk social. Advertisers are investing more on social platforms. Millennials want socially responsible brands. And consumers are becoming more conscious of their social presence. Meanwhile, Instagram is making its platform better suited for shoppers. Let’s dive in.

DETAILS, please

Advertisers investing more in Facebook. Over the next 12 months, close to two-thirds of brands’ plan to increase their investment to the social platform.

Millennials driving brands to practice socially responsible marketing. How are Millennials going to collectively spend that $30 trillion?

A better shopping experience on Instagram. Discovery has been part of the Instagram experience from the beginning.

Meanwhile back at the RANCH

Social media users are scaling back: What this means for your brand. Today, consumers are becoming increasingly more aware, careful and sensitive to their own and other’s social presence.

Grocers are poised for Facebook greatness. Some brands struggle to find purpose on social media. Grocers aren’t among them.

THE Topic of conversation

Visual communication. Did you know that 93 percent of communication is visual? Amplify your marketing and discover how your brand can communicate visually. Download our latest free guide "Communicating with Visuals."


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Flu season driving you nuts? There's an app for that: #UberForHealth.

Flu season driving you nuts? There's an app for that: #UberForHealth.


Yes, you read that correctly. UberHEALTH.

On October 25, the ride-sharing enterprise advertised their new promotional effort, #UberForHealth.

When users in participating cities opened the app between 11am and 3pm, Uber’s temporary “HEALTH” option could be selected in attempt to stay well this season. The campaign was designed to deliver flu care packages and flu shots for up to five individuals from a registered nurse through Passport Health, for free. No tricks, no gimmicks, just the tap of a button.

If you are a firm believer in the expression “good things come in threes” this marketing tactic probably appeals to you– free Uber, free care package, and last but certainly not least, free flu shots.

Although the shot is optional, Uber hopes their promotion will encourage users to take control of their health, along with keeping the health of others in mind. As reported by Uber, each year the flu affects 20 percent of the population and receiving the flu shot reduces the risk of passing your germs by 50-60 percent. Uber’s overall goal may be to spread buzz from person to person about the convenient transportation business, but UberHEALTH aspires to do the opposite for viruses and prevent illnesses from circulating.

How this helps Uber.

2016 is not Uber’s first rodeo testing out UberHEALTH. However, unlike last year, everything is free – and to be quite frank, everyone loves free. Uber’s pilot campaign presents users and non-users an incentive to try Uber for reasons other than convenient traveling.  

Even though Uber is merely getting their feet wet in the healthcare pool, we can’t help but wonder what is next? Will they tap into unlimited delivery services? Take over the world? (okay maybe not that far, but you get the idea).

Whatever the next big thing may be, the innovative campaign supports the multibillion dollar company in breaking out of the traditional “Uber box” and encourages more brainstorming on how Uber could ultimately be used. More uses = More business.

How this helps the healthcare industry.  

It’s no secret hospitals are on top of the latest technology in their facilities, but campaigns like UberHealth force innovation outside the hospital walls as well.

Although it may not be ideal to bring the nurse to the patient in every situation, hospitals are taking the idea of convenience integration and running with it. MedStar Health can be seen as a prime example when their partnership with Uber was announced in January 2016  in hopes of helping patients with transportation to and from appointments. According to research provided by BMC Health Services Research, with every patient that does not show up to an appointment, a health organization loses money.

Keeping that in mind, incorporating concepts like transportation services is not only beneficial to the patient, it is also one small step towards the future for healthcare industries.

How this helps you.

Now more than ever, the hours in the day seem to be disappearing and to-do lists are growing. Busy mom, hard-working Millennial, stay-at-home parent, regardless of who you are, everyone strives to master the art of fitting it all in. This year, Uber helped individuals scratch the flu shot off those long lists.

The ride hauling company has been mainly used for getting from point A to point B, but did you ever think to use Uber to receive your seasonal flu shot? Chances are, probably not. For current Uber users and non-users alike, no matter the success of UberHealth, this may possibly encourage you to find new ways to utilize the service for your benefit, even when you never thought you could.

According to DMR research, more than eight million people are consistent Uber users and two billion rides and counting have been taken. With figures like that, it is no wonder why Uber is constantly trying to find new ways to help customers get “more for their ride.” Uber Eats, Uber’s Vote campaign, and Dogs of Uber are models for how Uber is expanding for their own business, but more importantly, for you.

UberHEALTH + Healthcare + You.

Although information has not been released on how successful the pilot campaign has been this year, one thing appears to be evident; innovation is surely in the air – and it appears to be beneficial to all.

Don’t fret – if you missed the chance to try UberHEALTH, there is always next year to give them a “shot” (and they’ll be sure to give you one too!).

For more on healthcare marketing trends, sign up for our monthly edition of the Brogan Healthcare Checkup.

Starbucks' holiday red cup is back and cheerier than ever.

Starbucks' holiday red cup is back and cheerier than ever.

For the past few weeks, customers have been teased with messaging on boxes in stores that said “no peeking.” While some designs were leaked, Starbucks has kept a tight lid on this year’s design. Or shall we say designs. For the first time ever, the Starbucks holiday red cups feature designs created by customers.

In a tweet posted early Nov. 10, Starbucks revealed that “last year, we made the red cups,” but customers “made them the holidays.”

While there was much to say about last year’s design, Starbucks found customers were “using their red holiday cups as a canvas,” to create truly inspiring and intricate designs. Taking note, Starbucks hosted the #RedCupContest on Instagram. Within the first few days of the promotion, Starbucks received thousands of submissions from several countries.

The Starbucks team had the artists send in their cups to be evaluated for future production. Which brings us to this year’s designs. From nature inspired themes like magnolia branches, snowy landscapes and winter scenes to whimsical graphics that capture the magic of the holidays, this year’s cups are truly inspiring and all about the consumer.

Have you gotten a red cup yet? Let us know in the comments below, what your favorite design is.

Weekly Recap - November 4, 2016

Let’s take a poll…are you prepared for Black Friday shopping? A. Yes. B. No. C. I’m still eating leftover Halloween candy. Don’t fret, Mashable has four things every customer should know, well in advance. And if you think you’re going to post your post-Thanksgiving shopping experience to Vine, think again. Twitter announced last week that it is shutting down the six-second looping video platform. Where’s a Viner to go? Snapchat apparently. Take a look.

DETAILS, please

How to use Twitter Polls to engage your audience: 13 examples from real brands. It’s been a year since Twitter polls became an option. And HubSpot wants to know, “Are there any brands out there that are really using Twitter Polls well?

4 things you need to know about Black Friday. Many of the deals are legitimate bargains, but others are nothing more than ordinary sales wrapped in shiny packaging. How can you tell the difference? Let’s look.

With the closure of Vine, Snapchat may see an influx of creators. Lack of innovation? Challenges with monetization? Let’s face it, it was a combination. RIP Vine.

Meanwhile back at the RANCH

It's no tricks and all treats from Facebook this year! Facebook released limited-edition Halloween reactions to help you get into the holiday spirit. 

Microsoft's Surface Studio: A world of pure imagination. Last week, the multinational technology company announced the debut of their first-ever desktop computer. And it was epic.

Rethink Breast Cancer makes it easy to show you care. The young women’s breast cancer movement has created thoughtful Give-A-Care products that help friends diagnosed with breast cancer get through the tough time ahead.

THE Topic of conversation

Millennials. Discover who Millennials are, why it’s important to market to them, and how you can increase brand loyalty and engagement. Download our free whitepaper “8 Rules of Marketing to Millennials.”


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Weekly Recap - October 28, 2016

Is your brand authentic? Does it have the right tone? Social Times has a few pointers. Meanwhile HubSpot presents a list of brands that are peppering their content marketing strategy with empathy. And have you noticed video views on Snapchat are down? The platform put a stop to autoplay and marketers aren’t thrilled. See here.

DETAILS, please

How to build an authentic brand with a remarkable voice. The difference between success and failure could well depend on how well you tailor your message to the right people.

9 examples of empathic content marketing in action. Not sure what that looks like? Let's walk through nine brands that nail empathetic content marketing in multiple mediums.

Snapchat stops autoplay. View counts have dropped by an average of 15 percent. What does this mean for your brand?

Meanwhile back at the RANCH

Introducing the Zocdoc “Unsick Day.” As part of their preventative healthcare campaign, Zocdoc, the healthcare scheduling service, has proposed Unsick Day to allow employees a day off each year to attend routine doctor and dental appointments.

THE Topic of conversation

Authenticity. Discover which brands are getting real and how to market authenticity across genders, generations and ethnic groups. Download our free whitepaper “3 Rules to Creating an Authentic Brand.”


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5 PSAs that are making us think.

When was the last time an advertisement made you think?

Was it a billboard? A commercial? A print ad? A social media status update? Regardless of the medium, the ad made you think. It changed your perception. It disrupted your previous thought.

What's making us think these days? Here are five powerful public service announcements that inspire us. 

1. #LikeAGirl - Always

Throughout the past few years, Always has initiated powerful conversations with their “Like a Girl” campaign. In previous ads, Always challenged stereotypes of what it means to run like a girl, fight like a girl and throw like a girl as well as the limitations girls face as they grow up. In anticipation of the Rio 2016 Olympics, Always has launched their third installment of the “Like a Girl” series. This time, Always encourages girls to keep playing, despite what the boys say. Feel inspired yet? 

2. Drugged Driving - Colorado Department of Transporation

In this clever PSA, the Colorado Department of Transportation informs viewers about the dangers of driving buzzed by testing their reaction time. Did you catch the “skip ad” button?

3. Sexual Consent - Thames Valley Police

In their efforts to educate on sexual consent, the Thames Valley Police are turning to tea. This thought-provoking PSA demonstrates various scenarios and levels of consent. Sometimes, consent is clear. For instance, if you ask someone if they want a cup of tea and they say “yes,” then it is clear that they want to drink tea. But there are some circumstances where consent isn’t always as clear. For example, if someone isn’t sure they want tea or said yes to tea, but when the tea came, they changed their mind. In these cases, the Thames Valley Police advise that you don’t make that person drink a cup of tea. 

4. Enough SAID - Michigan Women's Foundation

In 2009, more than 11,000 untested rape kits were found in a Detroit Police Department storage unit. Enough SAID (Enough Sexual Assault in Detroit) was formed to raise money to test each kit as well as to investigate and prosecute each crime. Together, we created a commanding campaign that not only raises awareness and encourages change, but is award winning to boot.

5. #EveryDropCounts - Colgate

Did you know that you can save up to eight gallons of water every day when you turn off the faucet as you brush your teeth? Colgate took to the Super Bowl 50 to debut their PSA. Not only did this ad catch our attention, but it truly made us more conscious about our water.

What ads gave you a new perception? Tell us in the comments below. 

Consumers Energy, Dow Chemical, GE target Gen We. Why?

Kids are a big market for brands big and small, from traditional to tech.

Brands naturally want a piece of the $21.1 billion in buying power that Gen We wields. PBteen wants to furnish their bedrooms, partnering with YouTube celeb Meg DeAngelis to inspire their inner-interior designer. Slammers wants to be in their lunchbox, wooing parents with the promise of functional food. And Staples wants in their backpacks and lockers, with smart supplies Designed by Students.

We get it. Gen We is 78 million strong and at least four young life stages deep. Brands want their attention and their loyalty. Win their hearts, win their (parents’) wallets for years to come.

But what business does a utility company, appliance maker or chemical manufacturer have with this under 20 crowd? Turns out, big business. Not the traditional gas, electric and pharma kind. Rather, the human resources kind. On a higher level still, the social marketing kind.

For their companies to prosper, they need talent. Not just any talent, STEM talent, people with skills in science, technology, engineering and math. And right now, STEM talent is in high demand and in short supply. (This is especially true of girls and women in STEM fields. More on that later.)

Since 2004, the number of STEM jobs in the U.S. has increased 16 percent to 16.5 million, according to GAO.gov. Think software developers, computer systems analysts, web developers, mechanical engineers, construction managers, accountants, mechanics, and school psychologists. By 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects there will be 8.7 million more STEM jobs.

So, companies like Consumers Energy, Dow Chemical and General Electric are putting significant marketing and other resources behind fostering more STEM talent, funding school endeavors, extracurricular activities and ad campaigns to motivate interest.

Consumers Energy invites kids to explore their genius.

Earlier this year, Consumers Energy launched the Generation Genius Project to inspire students to pursue STEM fields. The campaign included a video and microsite backed by decades of volunteerism, leadership and financial support. Brogan worked with the utility’s marketing team and leadership to develop the campaign.

“We are excited by the opportunities created by robotics in schools to inspire students to learn and explore science, technology, engineering and math fields,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of distribution operations, engineering and transmission in a recent press release. “That’s why we launched our new Generation Genius Project to make sure Michigan is first in the nation when it comes to developing young minds through science and robotics.”

Much of Consumers Energy’s work in STEM has involved FIRST Robotics, a national, nonprofit that encourages young people to be science and technology leaders. So, the Generation Genius assets are robotics-centric. FIRST is a big deal in STEM education, with robotics teams popping up across schools today like soccer teams in the 90s.

The Generation Genius Project video includes classroom experiments, physics projects, earth science and, of course, robotics. The video features actual middle school robotics teams in the thick of mock-competition, appealing to the ambitious, success-driven Gen We bent on discovery. The spot is also targeting Gen We’s mom, who worries about her daughter competing in an increasingly global market. Media plans focused largely on digital, inbound marketing and cable.

STEM ranks among Dow Chemical’s top initiatives.

Dow’s STEMtheGAP campaign involves a host of initiatives to advance STEM education, from training and funding to leadership and advocacy. Dow also sponsors You Be The Chemist, an interactive academic contest that encourages students in grades fifth-eighth to explore chemistry concepts and their real-world applications. The company’s overall STEM marketing efforts have involved public relations, community outreach, social media and internal communications.

“Dow has survived and thrived for more than a century because of the strength of our innovation engine, built on a foundation of STEM talent,” said Andrew N. Liveris, Dow’s chairman and chief executive officer in a recent press release. “Investing in the education of our youth means investing in our shared future and the future of our company. There is no better way to inspire children to pursue careers in STEM than through the hands-on project based learning experiences that FIRST provides.”

Thanks to General Electric, there’s an emoji for that.

GE’s #EmojiScience campaign makes chemistry, physics and other core science subjects more accessible to students with the help of five emoji-illustrated lesson plans. GE worked with The National Science Foundation and NBC Learn to create the plans for teachers to use for free.

The plans can be found at EmojiScience.com, which also houses an interactive emoji table of experiments and a video series featuring Bill Nye explaining science by using emoji. Illustrating that just about anything can be explained with the help of emoji, Nye’s bit on evolution has received nearly 1.5 million views to date. Clearly, GE’s speaking Gen We’s language. Emojically.

Girls go geek (please).

And then there’s the girl factor. Women have close to half of all jobs in the U.S., but less than a quarter of those jobs have been in science, technology, engineering or math. Women represent only about 14 percent of engineers and some 27 percent of all computer science jobs. This is both a problem, and an opportunity.

Verizon, in partnership with Makers, seized the moment last year with the “Inspire Her Mind” campaign. In the :60 second spot, we see curly haired toddler praised for her beauty by an adoring female voice. She grows up to be a curious little girl, sorting rocks, scrambling through a river bed, collecting sea creatures. As a tween, she skillfully creates a model of the solar system, teetering on her bed as she hangs it on the ceiling. She’s elbow to elbow with her teen brother in the garage, using power tools to assemble a rocket. All the while, a voiceover of mom and dad admonishes her curiosity, imploring her to act more like a girl. The end frame finds the tween staring at a science fair poster at school, using the reflection of the display case to apply lipstick.

The toy industry is also considering the possibilities. The Mega Bloks Barbie-branded line of construction toys and Lego Friends, market to women and girls by demonstrating that building blocks can be pastel-colored and smart. Still, old toy brands have been slow to break gender stereotypes. So innovative, progressive Millennial toymakers have taken to crowdfunding to produce STEM-oriented toys for girls.

The creators of GoldieBlox, a toy set that teaches girls engineering, initially used Kickstarter to garner funding and interest and raised more than $285,000.  GoldieBlox can now be found on the shelves of some 6,000 stores. When Linkitz co-founder and MIT PhD Lyssa Neel wanted to produce the wearable tech toys that teach little girls how to code, she and her partners raised more than $100,000 via crowdfunding.

“My hope is to inspire the next generation of tech titans,” Neel said in a video posted on YouTube. “I want to see a girl lead a really great tech company. And say when I was a little girl I played with Linkitz and that’s what inspired me.”

STEM goes Hollywood.

Hollywood is also investing in STEM to reach younger audiences. More technical careers and concepts are being featured on television and film, and are going viral in high-profile social media memes, than in past years, notes CEB Iconoculture. Young consumers are tuning into reality-based science programming and science fiction, motivating media brands to devote more real estate and airtime to the multifaceted niche genre.

In the last two years, we’ve seen box office space dramas Interstellar, The Martian and Gravity. There’s no shortage of examples on TV—from Cosmos and The Big Bang Theory, to Bill Nye the Science Guy and Brain Games. Nickelodeon added another candidate to the fall lineup. Called Game Shakers, the tween sit-com casts middle schoolers as savvy scientists and video game designers. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has been so impressed with the influx of STEM heroines that they crafted a list of their favorite stars, with Bones’ Temperance Brennan and NCIS’s Abby Sciuto making the cut.

You had me at 89 percent go on to college.

Brogan surveyed nearly 1,100 women earlier this year about STEM and robotics. We wanted to find out what women knew about efforts to encourage STEM in the classroom and their relative importance. The majority of the some 300 respondents were at least somewhat familiar with STEM promotions and robotics, and 67 percent said robotics were an important or very important program to prepare kids for STEM fields.

But the more facts they learned about robotics and STEM, the more impassioned they became. Moms are like that. They were particularly opinionated about the following:

FACT: High schoolers who participate in robotics have access to millions in scholarship funds for college and receive more favorable consideration by many colleges and universities. (97 percent would be more likely to advocate for robotics in schools if they knew this fact.)

FACT: In 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs required in-depth knowledge in at least one of the STEM fields. That’s 20 percent of the workforce. (91 percent would be more likely to advocate for robotics in schools if they knew this fact.)

FACT: 89 percent of robotics team alumni go on to college. (90 percent would be more likely to advocate for robotics in schools if they knew this fact.)

STEM is a perfect social marketing fit for Consumers Energy, Dow, GE. Here’s why.

Rather than bury core company values within internal plans, brands are broadcasting their beliefs in an effort to find common ground with increasingly discerning consumers. The intersection of personal consumer values and core brand values provides the ideal platform for effective social marketing campaigns.

Dow’s STEM strategy is a great example of where consumer values—education, creating economic prosperity for all—meets corporate values:

“Dow is an integral contributor to advancing interest in, access to, and quality of STEM education globally. STEM learning is an economic imperative. By focusing expertise and resources on STEM and related careers, Dow plays a vital role to increase the number of STEM professionals and educators globally.”

Dow can afford to have lofty goals, like impacting global economies. Companies don’t have to shoot quite so high to connect with consumers. But they do have to follow a few rules:

  1. Make sure it fits. For branded cause-driven campaigns to be effective, they must sync sensibly with a brand’s product line. When timely product promotion and corporate do-gooding logically intersect, marketing impact is inherently heightened.
  2. Make sure consumers care. Companies should select causes that their customers care about in a way that positively impacts sales.
  3. Watch your tone. The correct tone is critical. A brand with a silly sensibility that suddenly mounts a starkly serious cause-driven campaign only serves to undercut all the hard work they’ve spent on building a specific identity in the first place.

So, market on Consumers Energy, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Lego and Linkitz. Target our kids. Sell them on robotics, technology and STEM overall. We want to find you on their class schedules and in their toy boxes. You win. We win.

Interested in learning more about social marketing campaigns that motivate positive social change and spark positive brand awareness? Download our free whitepaper: “8 Strategies to motivate behavior change: social marketing the Brogan way.”

6 ways your nonprofit organization can be successful on Instagram.

They say a single image is worth a thousand words. This adage has helped make Instagram popular among retail brands. But what about nonprofits? Can a picture capture the power of a cause? Oh yeah.

From museums to charities, organizations to projects, Instagram is an impactful, strategic medium to market your nonprofit and bring awareness to your cause.

Here are six ways your nonprofit organization can be successful on Instagram.

1. URL linking
Want to drive more traffic to your website? Linking your homepage URL, donation page and or YouTube campaign video within the bio section of the account profile will generate leads and share your message. Organizations like Charity Water, Unicef and the TrevorProject are just a few nonprofits doing just that.

url linking

2. Pop culture references
Pop culture is constantly steering the direction of conversation–especially on social media. After the release and success of the film Jurassic World, #PrattKeeping quickly became a trending topic. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History quickly joined in the conversation by posting this clever photo, recreating a key scene from the film. Not only did it spark engagement, but it demonstrated their relevancy within the social space.

3. Inspirational quotes
#MondayMotivation anyone? Post inspiring quotes related to your cause like @ted, @unicef and @red do:


A photo posted by TED Talks (@ted) on


A photo posted by (RED) (@red) on

4. Celebrity involvement
Is a celebrity expected to participate at one of your events? Snap a quick photo.


Eight-year-old Bree wished to meet her favorite singer, @Meghan_Trainor. @MakeAWishMidSouth

A photo posted by Make-A-Wish America (@makeawishamerica) on

5. Educational facts
People take pleasure in learning new information, especially facts and statistics. Taking the time to provide factual information to the public is a great way to express the need of your efforts and cause. Over the past eight years, Charity Water has been able to fund more than 16,138 water projects around the world–and were sure to post about it.

6. Faraway places
From Ethiopia to Yemen, sharing where your organization has been is great way to encourage support. Followers can see where their donations are going, who they are helping, and they get to travel via their Instagram feed along the way. One of the many leading nonprofits in the space is National Geographic. From striking humanist portraits to environmental landscapes, @natgeo posts remarkable images, inspiring the public to care about the planet and all its inhabitants.

nonprofit on Instagram

Which nonprofits are you following on Instagram? Sound off in the comments section. And be sure to check out the latest blog in the series - 6 ways retailers can be successful on Instagram.

For more information on how to market your business on Instagram, stay tuned to this blog series. In upcoming posts, we’ll cover industry specific best practices, share a few examples, define different types of posts, and provide steps to launch your brand on Instagram. Meanwhile, take a peek at Brogan’s Instagram account for inspiration.


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