Cross-Promotion: Clever or Never?

10 Jan
January 10, 2012

I’m an admitted Disney fan, so I was naturally psyched to see the upcoming re-release of Beauty and the Beast in 3D. I promptly liked the Beauty and the Beast Facebook page and have enjoyed seeing behind-the-scenes nuggets, pictures and trailers scroll through my News Feed these past few months in preparation for the January 13th release date. Obviously, Disney has other film projects in the works, most notably, their new Pixar collaboration, Brave, a tale about a (wait for it) brave Celtic princess.

Disney is a massive brand, with fan pages for each of their titles, theme parks, subsidiaries and more. So it makes sense that some cross-promotion takes place – heck, it’s a no-brainer. But I was surprised to see a bit of clever tagging on a post the other day:

Posting a picture from the movie, the Beauty and the Beast fan page captioned the photo with a cutesy warm fuzzy about bravery and fate. But soft, what tag through yonder update breaks?! They cleverly inserted the title of their new Pixar movie, tagging it and leading fans to Brave‘s own Facebook page.

I paused at this. Clever? Or spammy? Sure, it’s all Disney, but do I want a Beauty and the Beast experience divorced of other Disney properties? Or do I want to see how this movie fits with the overall Disney brand experience? I asked the office here at Sitewire and received some interesting responses, of which I’ve included some snippets:

I don’t see an issue as long as you’re cross-promoting within your own brand. -Sandy Catour

Sneaky sneaky…BUT I love it!! Pretty smart if you ask me :) -Paige Dell’Armi

I’ve seen a lot of things from Disney sort of uniting the common thread between their heroines. For any other brand, I might say that this is spammy cross-promotion that takes advantage of the tagging functionality. For Disney, it’s furthering a message that has been integral to them for years, while at the same time showing that they still produce films that instill the same values in young girls. -Emily Voris

So, seems like most people liked the idea, but recognized that it walks a fine line, and, perhaps, it’s only okay because Disney did it. But maybe it’s not so much the fact that cross-promotional tagging took place, but how it was used. For example, instead of working the tag into a sentence (which, by the way, is not a quote from Beauty and the Beast – might have been different if it was), why couldn’t they have been a bit more transparent? What if they had captioned the photo differently?

Belle is a strong and independent character. And in keeping with Disney’s long line of inspirational heroines, Disney brings audiences Merida, a Celtic princess who makes her feature film debut in this summer’s Brave.

Regardless, it’s fun to see brands experimenting with Facebook’s functionality. And I’m psyched for both Beauty and the Beast in 3D and Brave.

What are your thoughts? Are there rules to cross-promotional tagging on Facebook? Let us know in the comments!

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7 replies
  1. Greg Taylor says:

    Insteresting article. It does walk a fine line, but I think if under the same umbrella and consistent with the referenced brand it’s fine. I’m interested to see where this goes in the future.

    • Dustin Diehl says:

      Thanks for the comment, Greg! Like you, I’m also interested to see how brands continue to explore Facebook features – and with Facebook’s constant updates, I don’t think we’ll have a shortage of unique approaches.

  2. Shannon Johnson says:

    Awesome post, Dustin! I haven’t seen this before. My initial reaction: Good for Disney. I think Facebook tagging is underutilized by brands. As individuals with profiles, we’ve become accustomed to tagging other people in our photos, status updates, check-ins. From the brand side, though, it seems like page managers forget to think about creative ways to incorporate other Facebook entities into their posts to garner additional exposure or provide a bit more context.

    The caption is a bit of a stretch, so I think you’re right in that they could have done a less cheesy tie-in. Regardless, I don’t think it’s spammy in this case because Disney is light-heartedly (making that word up?) piquing your interest about another one of their films. After all, that’s what it did, right? It made you a bit more curious about what Brave was all about (although you already know everything about every movie). I bet they got more visits and likes on the Brave Facebook page as a result, which is exactly what they were hoping to do.

    • Dustin Diehl says:

      Thanks for the comment! It’d be cool to see what kind of bump in likes the Brave page got thanks to this post – is it effective? Did it jump significantly? Just a little? Either way, I agree, it’s cool to see brands experimenting with things that personal users have been familiar with for a while.

  3. Katie Van Domelen says:

    I actually love it. I think the way they did it was perfect. If I had seen it written as “You like Beauty and the Beast? Check out ” I would have skimmed right over it – clearly identifying it as nothing more than a marketing message. In my opinion that’s really the heart of spam, talking to me about something I didn’t ask to hear about.

    However, the way they did it was to focus on relevance. The phrase they wrote is a major theme in Beauty and the Beast, Belle was brave and took control of her own destiny. You could read that in your news feed and keep on going, no harm done. It’s relevant to me as a fan of Beauty and the Beast and it could be *just* that if I let it. However if I was interested and chose to engage further, I could click on the tag and see that there’s another movie relevant to the message I liked from Belle. It allows me to opt-in to the marketing rather than having it pushed blatantly to me.

    Not to mention as a fan of literary device I love, love, love that they simply wrote the message and allowed me to connect the dots myself to see that the qualities I loved in Belle are the same ones I may come to love in the heroine of Brave. I happen to think the best ads are those that respect the intelligence of their audience and lead them to conclusions rather than presenting conclusions and beating the audience over the head with it. (For example I think “Tackle pain HeadOn” would have been a better slogan for HeadOn than “HeadOn: Apply Directly To the Forehead. HeadOn: Apply Directly To the Forehead. HeadOn: Apply Directly To the Forehead. HeadOn: Apply Directly To the Forehead.”)

    So I think this approach is elegant and, as Shannon mentioned, takes advantage of the technology that’s available in a new and interesting way. But then I say that as someone who promoted just such a strategy to a major film company back in August so maybe I’m biased ;)

    • Dustin Diehl says:

      Good points! I do like the “unmarketing” qualities of it – I’m keeping my eyes peeled to see if any other brands do something similar. I did see Disney doing it with their main page, posting images of various characters from their movies and linking to that character’s fan page; I definitely think that works well too!

  4. Dustin Diehl says:

    Looks like Disney is at it again! Seems like their cross-tagging is more of an actual strategy, not a one-off (although it’s Disney, why am I surprised?!). Very cool – kudos to Disney!

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