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The New Era of Brand Ambassadors

Why companies should utilize their own employees (aka NJ brand ambassadors) to promote their brand.

Starbucks has turned “Barista fails” into brilliant social media promotion. What is your brand doing? (Photo credit: Buzzfeed https://bzfd.it/2nw2V3z)

We all know that that commercials use hired actors to read a script to promote a product. Not super authentic. So many brands have moved at least part of their budgets over to online influencers. The mindset is that consumers are more likely to try a product recommended by a well-trusted source like a social media influencer, friend, relative, or coworker. Now brands have taken things up another notch: leveraging their employees. Think of it as an instant team of NJ brand ambassadors.

Here are a few examples of brands that have seen success through their employees on social media:

Starbucks has actually benefited from specific hashtags that make the most of their “employee fails.” The first time I heard about Starbucks was from a friend who was obsessed with the chain, but kept getting her name misspelled by a Starbucks barista every time she went. Her name is Janel, and her Starbucks name went from “Jonele” to “Janal” and my favorite, “Joana.” She wasn’t alone. Social media channels are flooded with pictures of Starbucks drinks with misspelled names. Yes your name looks funny, but your #starbucksfails post just promoted the latest offering from the coffeehouse giant. The hashtag of course trended. Now here’s the interesting part: according to buzzfeed.com, an unnamed Starbucks assistant manager told Cosmopolitan, that they promoted the brand through this approach, by using Starbucks baristas to intentionally mess up people’s names.

WestJet Airlines
During Christmas, WestJet deploys its employees at different airports around the world to give out “mini Christmas miracles.” Back in 2013, airline employees surprised passengers on a whole flight with gifts. But the real benefit went to the airline, who received countless impressions across media and social media, where the good news quickly spread. In 2015, a WestJet employee dressed up as Santa visited homes, giving out gifts and free trips. The airline’s employees fulfilled these mini miracles throughout 90 different locations the same year, and the tradition continues every year – and #WestJetChristmas continues to drive social media shares (as well as over 300,000 website visits!).

Pizza Hut
In “Your Favorites. Your Pizza,” Pizza Hut turned eight employees into the face of the brand via their 2010 ad campaign. Employees said things like, “this is the pizza you get at the end of the day,” “this is your kid’s favorite night of the week,” or  “this isn’t just a pizza, these are your favorites.” According to Brian Niccol, Pizza Hut’s CMO, they wanted to focus on the hometown emotional side of the brand – not a new product or new deal
. The result: an 8% increase in Pizza Hut store sales.

Brand ambassadors are the new celebrities

Celebrity endorsements don’t necessarily pack the promotional punch they used to. This is something we know quite well, since Instagram influencers have become a primary source of public influence. And while it’s true that anyone can become an online influencer, let’s make sure we include the people behind the brand in that mix. It’s time for companies to utilize what may be their best promotional asset: their employees. Welcome to the age of NJ brand ambassadors.


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