The Science Behind Making People Care

By Julie Bush

Picture this. You just got home from a day packed full of classes. You are tired, drained and most of all- starving. You open your refrigerator to make a sandwich gathering your ingredients. Then something horrible happens. Your refrigerator is too hot and your mayonnaise has expired. How can this be? You just bought it last week. 

Did you know that millions of fridges are running too warm? When refrigerators reach temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit, food will spoil three days faster than at normal temperatures. As you can imagine, early spoilage leads to a large increase in food waste. In an effort to reduce food waste, in the UK specifically, Hellman’s has introduced “smart jars.” The labels on the jars have thermochromic ink which helps to indicate if consumers’ refrigerators are at optimal temperatures to keep food safe eliminating early food spoilage. Hellman’s identified a specific problem within the public interest, food waste, and took it on with an unwritten call to action. 

Today the public faces countless issues on a day-to-day basis. It is important to connect to the needs of the consumer while keeping up with the growing need for businesses to be able to understand and identify with consumer values. Many consumers today will not purchase from companies or brands that choose not to help the community. With fast-paced technology and social media, it is important for businesses to develop shared values with their publics. 

 How can we as professional communicators do this, and where should we start?

One way is to zero in on an issue that is within the public interest and show consumers we care by utilizing public interest communications techniques. As professional communicators, we can generate wealth, prosperity and opportunities for not only ourselves and our organizations but also our publics and our consumers. We have the platform and ability to help those who cannot help themselves while accomplishing the goals of our organization. 

What is Public Interest Communications? 

To understand Public Interest Communications, we must first define public interest. Public interest does not have an explicit definition because it is constantly evolving. What may be considered within the public interest today may not be in five years due to changes in values. Think of public interest as an established, widespread awareness of an issue that is unjust and affects many people. 

If you consider Hellman’s example, you can recognize food waste as an issue within the public interest. 

Public Interest Communications combines strategic thinking, public interest, research and strategic communication to drive long-term social change. It is a social science deeply rooted in research and collaboration with consumers. The idea is to create lasting change by going beyond just raising awareness to motivating people to effect positive societal change.

Implementation of a public interest communication campaign is executed using five principles: join the community, communicate in images, invoke emotion with intention, create meaningful calls to action and tell better stories. These five principles combined help motivate social change and create an opportunity to make people care. 

How to Find What Makes Your Community Care 

The science behind making people care can be broken down into five overall steps: 

#1 Join the Community

Joining the community begins with finding a group of people whose change in behavior would open up the door for social change. Research from multiple disciplines tells us that people engage and consume information that affirms their identities and aligns with their deeply held values and worldview, and avoid or reject information that challenges or threatens them. Businesses cannot just announce that they will advocate for a particular social issue. They must research their target consumers focusing on their beliefs, motivations and challenges. Once an issue within the public interest is identified, the business can find ways to communicate with images and invoke emotion with intention. 

#2 Communicate in Images

Words are subjective and images communicate concrete ideas. “Many experiments have shown that readers understand and remember material far better when it is expressed in concrete language that allows them to form visual images,” cognitive scientist Steven Pinker writes in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign advertisement (Rogers, 2021). 

Take for example Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign which used women from diverse backgrounds in advertisements to address the issue of underrepresentation in the media. As for evoking emotion with intention, the campaign challenged many stereotypes found in the media while asking women to look at beauty in a different light. Audiences can see this campaign as a call to action that started the widespread use of diversity within advertising and public relations campaigns. 

#3 Invoke Emotion With Intention

Relying on sadness to invoke emotion in audiences does not always work. Think of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commercials. Though the commercials are meant to gain donations, they can be difficult to watch through. Types of media like this make people feel guilt causing them to want to turn off the TV. The non-profit organization The American National Red Cross evokes emotion with intention through the National Giving Tuesday Campaign. Instead of a jarring video used to evoke guilt in audiences, The American National Red Cross evokes hope. They ask audiences to provide help and hope to families in need no matter how small the emergency in their lives. 

#4 Create Meaningful Calls to Action 

Your job is to tell your audience and community how they can make a difference. This is done with creative, impactful calls to action. Effective calls to action follow three rules: They are specific; the target community sees how the solution will help solve the problem; and they are something the community knows how to do. 

The Real Cost campaigning advertisement (Bessette, 2018).  

Effective calls to action are specific. The Food and Drug Administration originally launched the campaign “The Real Cost” in 2014. The overall goal of the campaign was to educate young adults and teenagers on the harmful effects of vaping and tobacco use. Their most recent call to action is for their customers to know the real cost of smoking cigarettes. There is no beating around the bush with the language in their call to action. The message is specifically telling the audience that they should know the real cost of smoking cigarettes. 

#5 Tell Better Stories 

Effective calls to action show target communities how the solution will help solve the problem. The problem being tackled by Dove US is the bad impression that social media can make on impressionable young minds.  

Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film | Dove Self-Esteem Project

The solution to this problem, as explained by Dove, is to bring awareness to the severity of the situation by telling us Mary’s story in the above video. Dove offers a solution to sign an online petition to pass the Kids Online Safety Act. The Kids Online Safety Act essentially protects kids from seeing content that has been found to be harmful to their mental health. By communicating with images, the call to action evokes emotion with intention and tells a story of a girl who needed protection. 

Effective calls to action are easily understood and can be carried out by the general public with minimal effort. Dove has countless resources listed on their website to help make social media a safer place for kids. 


We all can make a difference in our community even if we are public relations professionals in charge of a large agency. Public Interest Communications starts with

#1 Joining the community

#2 Communicating through images

#3 Evoking emotion with intention

#4 Creating meaningful calls to action

#5 Telling better stories. 

Your business has the ability to reach profit goals while helping your target population by finding shared values. 

Joining your community is the first step to creating positive social change. 

Tourism is growing at an exponential rate in Wild & Wonderful West Virginia – from cave and river adventures, to resorts and spas, there is something for everyone to try and love. But what about the opportunities to connect with local communities and learn about the heritage of Appalachia? Businesses like farm-to-table restaurants, farm stays, u-pick farms and distilleries offer family-friendly adventures and hands-on experiences that are uniquely Appalachian. 

The challenge, however, is that people are largely unaware of the more than 200 agritourism and farm based experiences found only in the Mountain State. To overcome this, MHA and WVU Extension partnered to craft a campaign that takes visitors and residents alike on a route to the roots of Appalachia.

What we learned

To determine the best path, the account team looked to other states to learn how they were promoting the industry and conducted interviews with tourism authorities, agritourism business owners and experts. Recognizing we needed to pilot the ideas we generated, the group identified three main regions that were positioned for growth: the Eastern Panhandle, Potomac Highlands, and New River Valley/Greenbrier regions. 

We also learned a lot about what the businesses felt were the best first steps to achieve the campaign goals, as well as who would be most likely to enjoy the deeply rooted traditions of the Appalachian experience. To be successful, we also needed to recognize a few key insights: 

Who we connected with

While we knew that farm-based fun wasn’t the experience for everyone, we learned that there were some audience segments that were craving a unique experience and new family tradition. 

The first audience segment was the sustainably conscious young mom. The primary goal for this audience segment was to bring awareness to the many family-friendly agritourism experiences that the eastern part of the state has to offer. 

The second audience segment identified was the adventurous, retired couple. The primary goal of targeting this segment was to show those who have the time to travel and are seeking memorable experiences that there are many relaxing and novel agritourism opportunities throughout the eastern part of West Virginia. 

The last audience segment that the group identified were busy, enthusiastic business owners in eastern West Virginia. The main goal of pursuing this audience segment was to show that agritourism businesses in eastern WV cultivate environments to pursue passions. 

What we created

Based on our research, we knew the first step was to cultivate relationships with a variety of businesses ranging from lodging to farms and restaurants to breweries. For these businesses we wanted to provide them a way to connect with one another, while also elevating visibility of their own business.  To accomplish this we created a variety of digital and print assets.  

Meet Me in The Mountain State Guides

Digital and downloadable travel guides were published on the WVU Extension website.  This one stop destination for all things farm-based allows tourists and travelers an easy to find list of businesses in the region.  To drive traffic to the site, window decals including a QR code were provided to all partner businesses. 

To increase awareness of agritourism in general, attractive posters were also created as a fun and artistic way to demonstrate the Appalachian roots of farm-based businesses.   

Brochures were created for distribution at visitor centers throughout the state and through partnered businesses. The brochure included information about agritourism in general and a helpful map highlighting what was in each region. 

Enlisting the Support of Influencers and Travel Writers

To increase our reach and awareness, the team developed a list of micro influencers with a passion for travel and an engaged following.  Targeted influencers ranged from people who loved to share their passion for the Mountain State to those who were known for finding exciting outings in unique places. We also reached out to travel writers and bloggers at respected publications ranging from The Washington Post to WV Tourism and WV Living to Virginia Travel tips. These experts offered another way to connect audiences with the rich stories, deeply rooted traditions and tapestry of farm-based opportunities in the eastern portion of the state. 

Optimizing Businesses Digital Footprints

Our research also indicated that many of the farm-based and agritourism operators didn’t have extensive knowledge of how to promote their businesses online.  As a first step to improve their searchability, the team developed instructional SEO tutorials, keywords lists and optimized content. These resources were provided to businesses so that they can easily implement these strategies and improve their digital footprint.  

What we accomplished

While the work is never done, the team accomplished many things that lay the foundation for ongoing success. A few highlights include:

  • Partnering with nearly a dozen businesses in the Eastern Panhandle New River-Greenbrier Valley regions. 
  • Securing 133 page views on the Eastern Panhandle guide and 104 page views on the New River-Greenbrier Valley guide 
  • Confirming interest from two influencers, four publications and one podcast.
  • Presenting SEO strategies to 21 owners and operators with many committing to implementation 

“The mountain state holds such a significant part in the history and culture behind apple cider. We want to recognize, celebrate and educate others on West Virginia hard cider stemming from Appalachian roots.”

Dee Singh-Knights, Associate Professor of Resource Economics and Management Extension Specialist

The Challenge

In the 18th century, when clean drinking water was not guaranteed, apple cider was America’s beverage. At the time much of that cider came from right here in West Virginia. However, by the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Mountain State’s deep roots in the cider industry became less prominent, leading to fewer cideries and a lost connection to the Appalachian traditions ingrained in the production of the tasty beverage. 

To cultivate increased pride in West Virginia’s cider traditions WVU Extension turned to MHA to develop a campaign to increase visibility and interest in the rich stories, culture and production of hard cider. 

Research Insights

In interviews with cidery operators, and experts who grow apples and understand the legislative landscape we learned that the history, connection to community and unique experiences offered at cideries offered opportunities to elevate awareness and increase interest.  

Target Audience 

An analysis of travel reviews and conversations with cidery experts pointed to unaware West Virginians and travelers as the ideal audiences to target. West Virginians who take pride in their state, culture, businesses and community would appreciate the local tradition and stories behind West Virginia hard cider. Travelers from surrounding areas, including Washington D.C., seek to escape the busy city life to experience memorable adventures that West Virginia cider can provide.


Once we better understood the challenge and who we needed to communicate with, it was time to determine what we needed to say to help reconnect with these audiences. Our governing brand idea was born.  We wanted to share the Roots of the Appalachian Experience.

A message stemming from West Virginia cider being deeply rooted in Appalachian culture, history and traditions allowed us to present hard cider as more than a beverage; it is an Appalachian experience that can be learned about or enjoyed with friends and family. 


To educate West Virginians and out-of-state travelers about the important stages of Appalachian hard cider creation, we created the central tagline “Seed. Swig. Smile.” We later incorporated this slogan into all of our deliverables to convey a consistent message. Each word of the tagline holds meaning to West Virginia cider traditions. 

  • Seed unites the rich farming and horticulture native to the state
  • Swig embodies the cider-making traditions passed down from generation to generation
  • Smile represents the community-oriented nature of the mountain state’s cider industry and how it gives back to West Virginians

U.S. Apple Cider Day 

Nov. 18th marked both U.S. Apple Cider Day and the official launch of our campaign. We promoted the nationally celebrated holiday by building excitement and interest in West Virginia cider while directing audiences to learn more. 

WVU Extension Cider Website Page

To share the rich traditions, the team developed content that was shared on WVU Extension’s website. Narratives included the history of West Virginia’s hard cider, hard cider creation process and information about West Virginia’s hard cider industry (cideries, distilleries and orchards). A short-form documentary was also produced that included interviews and footage shot at the WVU Animal Husbandry Farm, Hawk Knob and Swilled Dog.

Social Media

To connect with our local audiences and drive traffic to the website, we also shared content on WVU Extension’s  Facebook and Instagram pages. Here’s a sampling of what we shared.

Email Marketing 

To further drive traffic to the website while inspiring pride and involvement in the hard cider industry, our team utilized email marketing targeting individuals who had an existing relationship with WVU Extension. 

Educational Displays

For in-person contact, we also created educational banners that allow viewers to learn more about West Virginia cider culture at events where the displays are showcased. Those who are able to remember the key points receive a sticker to remember the campaign’s message.

The sticker given to educational display viewers

Success and Results

West Virginia cider stems from centuries of Appalachian tradition passed down from generation to generation. Our campaign bridged the gap between the past and the present, opening a door for future growth and continuous elevation of the West Virginia cider industry. 

Here are a few successes:

  • Total cider landing page views: 788 viewers
  • Instagram: reach of 8,621 people; 295 total likes
  • Facebook: 80 new page likes; page reach of 40,064 viewers (57.8% increase) 
  • Email marketing: open rate of 4,744 people (28.7%); 122 cider website clicks

News Coverage

Educational Displays

  • Showcased at Swilled Dog’s Home Grown Event, an agritourism networking event for West Virginia businesses
  • New asset for WVU Extension that can be used at future events and opportunities
Educational displays showcased at Swilled Dog’s Home Grown Event

In West Virginia, pride and heritage are the foundations of the culture. Agritourism offers a unique, uncharted experience for West Virginians in their home state. Yet, most residents are unaware of the presence of more than 220 agritourism businesses operating within the state. Just as concerningly, most are not familiar with the term “agritourism” and what it encompasses.

To combat this unawareness, we partnered with WVU Extension to increase West Virginians’ awareness of the state’s agritourism industry and equip agritourism businesses with resources to promote themselves and agritourism effectively.

Research Insights

In August 2022, we began to conduct primary and secondary research to learn more about the interests of travelers and the needs of agritourism business operators. We studied campaigns that benefited the agritourism industry in other states, and analyzed their approaches. Then, we conducted two focus groups with WVU Extension agents deeply familiar with West Virginia’s agritourism.  Then we analyzed the feedback provided by visitors on popular travel websites and business pages.  Finally, we conducted five-in depth interviews with agritourism business owners and operators.

From this research, we learned:

Notably, most agritourism owners and operators expressed that they strive to create an educational, down-to-earth experience for travelers. Based on that finding, we decided that the campaign should be simultaneously educational and evocative.

Target Audience

From our research, we identified two target audience segments to engage throughout the campaign. The primary audience comprises West Virginia travelers, ages 55 and older, who live in the Potomac Highlands and are unaware of nearby agritourism businesses. The second target audience includes agritourism business owners and operators whose businesses are operating within West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands.

Based on these demographics, we created the following target audience personas to help guide the campaign’s tone and outreach strategies:

For our primary target audience, our goal is to familiarize them with agritourism and connect it with the concept of what it means to be truly local. Most importantly, we want West Virginians to be aware of local agritourism businesses and the special family-oriented experiences they have to offer. 

For our secondary target audience, agritourism business owners and operators, our goal is to help them build connections with one another. Secondly, we wish to provide them with marketing resources to promote agritourism throughout West Virginia.

The Message

The agency developed a governing brand idea, an overarching concept based on research insights, to serve as the foundation of the semester’s campaigns.

“Roots of the Appalachian Experience”

Further, the campaign seeks to answer this seemingly fundamental yet complex question: “What does local mean to you?” To help answer this question, the campaign messaging aims to draw a connection with these adjectives:

  • Unique
  • Educational
  • Traditional
  • Valuable
  • Close-by

“Meet Me in the Mountain State” Agritourism Trail

To ease the planning of weekend getaways and afternoon adventures, the account team designed a portion of the “Meet Me in the Mountain State” agritourism trail, accessible from WVU Extension’s website. The trail provides a list of farm-to-table restaurants, farm markets, u-pick farms, breweries and other agritourism businesses and experiences throughout the state.

The trail includes helpful guides for West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands, Eastern Panhandle and New River-Greenbrier Valley. 

This all-encompassing online trail is promoted with decals featuring QR codes distributed to agritourism businesses throughout the region. The trail enables travelers to search for prospective destinations with ease.

Promote Local WV Communications Toolkit

Supporting the promotional efforts of agritourism owners and operators, the account team created the Promote Local WV Communications Toolkit, which includes social media templates, radio scripts and posters, among other valuable tools.

This user-friendly, free resource will provide a competitive advantage for business owners and operators with limited time, funds and marketing expertise. Furthermore, the toolkit helps the agency and WVU Extension to enable agritourism businesses to promote agritourism and educate West Virginians about opportunities “right down the road.”

An example of a Facebook post template available to agritourism business owners and operators within the Promote Local WV Communications Toolkit.

Home Grown Networking Event

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the account team and WVU Extension hosted a networking event for agritourism business owners and operators at Swilled Dog, a cider distillery in Pendleton County, West Virginia. At the event, the account team presented the Truly Local WV Communications Toolkit to attendees and demonstrated how to use it.

The event also featured catering and beverages from the local market and two giveaways. Additionally, attendees were asked to share what local means to them, giving the account team and WVU Extension further insight into how to continue the campaign.

Paid Advertisements 

As an additional tactic to raise West Virginians’ awareness of agritourism and generate interest, the account team created Facebook advertisements promoted throughout the Potomac Highlands.

To provide a resource for WVU Extension to continue the campaign, the team also developed traditional paid advertisements, including newspaper and radio advertisements with scripts included. 

An example of a potential newspaper advertisement designed by our team

Success and Results

The concepts and strategies piloted in this campaign provide a foundation for future work. For instance, the Home Grown networking event achieved positive results from participants. Seventeen agritourism businesses were connected at the event, and 90% of attendees indicated they would utilize the Promote Local WV Communications Toolkit to support their companies’ promotional efforts. Moreover, 28 Meet Me in the Mountain State decals were distributed.

Additionally, the digital advertisements reached over 30,000 people and received a total of 735 engagements, including nearly 650 link clicks and six shares.

“We are so lucky to have an opportunity to bring students into our communities where they can showcase their skills and provide tangible tools for West Virginians.”

– Tara Curtis, Director of Communications and Marketing at WVU Extension

By: Courtney Bearer

Brands can no longer maintain a competitive advantage by only selling products and services; instead, they must compete to be your BFF. As the world of traditional advertising and utilizing basic marketing tactics is diminishing, businesses must attempt new ways of reaching consumers to stay afloat. Brands have now taken it upon themselves to try forming personal connections, becoming your friend. Successful companies have most recently taken part in humanization efforts. This is a brand’s effort to act like an individual connecting with consumers on a deeper level instead of a corporation. The new human-like branding era is beginning to take over social media, social issues, consumers’ shopping experiences and more. As brands continue the fight for a spot as consumers’ BFFs, consumers want the brands they support to have similar values or any values that contribute to the greater good.

Brands Personally Interacting with Consumers on Social Media 

The simplest form of using social media as an advertising tool includes posting paid and organic content about a brand and its products and services. Today, marketers have adapted their strategies to fit the evolving societal norms and consumer wants. Brands interact with users by responding to comments, which makes consumers believe the organization values building long-lasting friendships with customers. Along with this interactive tactic, some businesses have begun being casual when posting social media content. Examples include brands swearing and posting content solely to entertain users. This content usually does not directly promote the company or its products/ services, but it aims to attract consumers by being relatable and memorable. Brands like Chipotle do an outstanding job of being comical on social media while being relatable to consumers and maintaining a consistent brand personality. 

Wendy’s is another brand that has taken humanization to the next level. Its marketing team created a campaign that occurs annually called National Roast Day. The brand takes this day to roast (make fun of) other brands and consumers by request. This hilarious effort became extremely popular on the platform of Twitter. The underlying purpose of the campaign was to promote a free medium fry deal. Still, it had become the brand’s way of mirroring a real person who would comment negative messages on social media. This tactic further developed the concept of humanization and encouraged a shift to informal marketing tactics. 

While some frown upon the idea of brands acting casually, mimicking human-like qualities, the strategy has proven to stand out among the abundance of social media marketing content. Others believe this movement is unethical and takes advantage of human’s attraction to others’ feelings and relatability. Sometimes from a brand’s perspective, the risk of offending someone may outweigh the reward, deterring it from using this tactic. If done successfully, this movement allows users to laugh and relate to brands as if they were a people. Brands then hope this relationship will translate into sales, word-of-mouth advertising, interest and more. 

Brands Can Be People-Pleasers Too

Today, companies commonly post public statements about the brand’s feelings and efforts toward specific current events. In all reality, the brand itself cannot have feelings because it is an entity made of many people/ assets; it is not an individually acting human with beliefs and emotions. Along with this comes brands’ effort to be socially responsible. Whether this is ethically practicing or working to help a cause, businesses have larger tasks than just selling products and services. When a company promotes its efforts to support a cause, it is unfortunately not just for the sake of doing what is right. Instead, brands attempt to connect with people emotionally by acting as an individual with feelings. In all reality, these organizations are mainly concerned with building friendships with consumers, not the results of the charitable act. 

Airbnb is an excellent example of a brand taking a stance on a social matter while promoting its service. The brand addressed a relevant issue while launching the We Accept campaign using media including photos, videos, hashtags, formal statements and more. Its commercial advertisements were even aired during the 2017 Super Bowl. Airbnb’s campaign required users to agree to treat everyone equally regardless of their differences, or they would be banned from the platform. During this time, acts of racial injustice were occurring, leading to divides and hostility. Airbnb addressed the issue with its new platform requirements and message that including others creates a stronger, more beautiful world. Although the work was an incredible piece, it is hard to say whether brands that attempt to help an issue are there with good intentions or are trying to use their acts of goodwill as a form of publicity to pull at viewers’ heartstrings. 

It has become mainstream for brands to state opinions on matters by acting as individuals to remain relevant. Taking a stance on current events is almost expected of brands to attract consumers’ attention by being seen as a caring entity. Brands that stay silent or represent a different attitude on an issue than consumers will likely be frowned upon. Brands act as people pleasers by connecting with consumers as a friend and giving people what they want to hear instead of what the business wants to do. 

From One-on-One Friendships to One-on-One Consumer Experiences 

Businesses aim to outperform competitors and be favored by consumers to remain relevant. To do so, brands are no longer responsible for selling goods and services but also for providing memorable individual experiences. Being personable is a quality only humans present, but businesses try to mimic this connection. Successful personalized brands try to make no two customer experiences the same to create unique relationships similar to the bond that two individuals share. A tactic like addressing consumers on a first-name basis is a way for companies to catch viewers’ attention in emails, rewards programs and messages to make promotional communication more one-on-one. 

Amazon is a strong example of a brand that creates personal connections. It suggests potential products based on users’ previous purchases and search history. The helpful strategy can attempt to be relatable and build relationships that others cannot imitate. Amazon, like a friend, is always interested if the experience was good. While this advanced technology aids Amazon in captivating more significant sales and making consumers feel special, it can also be viewed as creepy and too close for comfort. 

Snapchat is another example of brands interacting with consumers on an individual level. The brand uses the tactic of Bitmojis, a cartoon image that users can customize to make it look like themselves, to provide a more enjoyable experience. This interactive one-on-one experience between Snapchat and consumers leads to more memorable, positive user involvement. 

What Does This Mean for the World of Advertising?

As brands try to blur the line between being a business and an individual, consumers are put in a vulnerable position. While this strategy of reaching customers in a new way stands out by being entertaining, eye-catching and effective, it also takes advantage of people’s desire to form meaningful connections. Brands will continue to be casual and behave like a friend of the consumer as it is an uprising strategy. As consumers’ needs and technology advance, relationships may grow even stronger; good friendships will never go out of style. Brands will progress and find new ways to interact with consumers closely, become more humanized and eventually become your new BFF. 


In this day and age, brands must go above and beyond to get noticed. Companies who have strived to get awareness have found creative ways to truly interact with their target audiences. Brand activations are what allow a brand to provide unique experiences to consumers in a more personal and direct way. Have you ever been scrolling through social media or an online news outlet, and seen a crazy publicity stunt being done to promote a new product or movie? Maybe you have been out in public and found yourself an active participant in an activation. This is done intentionally to capture your attention and get you to engage with the brand. A successful activation makes people stop, stare, and eventually act. Some brands will do almost anything to get the attention of the public, even if it means creating chaos and controversy. While we will go over several brands that have been successful in their activations, we will review some others that did not quite make the mark. 


To get the desired attention, a brand must do something out of the ordinary. Paramount Pictures did exactly this in promotion of their psychological-horror film, “Smile. The film, which hit theaters on September 30, 2022, focuses on a woman that is being tormented and haunted by smiling people who appear possessed. In efforts to promote the new movie, Paramount Pictures’ promotion team came up with the compelling idea to buy tickets and strategically place actors in different seats throughout a televised Mets and Yankees game. For all nine innings, the actors stood straight up in their seats, chillingly smiling from ear to ear, while looking straight into the camera. 

Did it work? Yes it did! The activation was able to create a ton of buzz around the film. According to Deadline, the film made over $100 million at the Global Box Office only two weeks after its release. The stunt quickly went viral on social media platforms like Twitter, with one post receiving over 50k likes and 2.8k retweets. The activation was a total success, something Paramount can thank the smiling actors for. 

Film journalist, Erik Davis shared on Twitter, “Here’s some fun, clever movie promo – Paramount seemingly placed #Smile actors in the crowd at both the Yankees and Mets games last night, both in view of cameras,” he continued, “The results were indeed creepy. Going to a game this weekend? Watch out for the smiles!”


There is no predicting the extreme lengths that brands will go to in order to promote themselves. Sometimes, activations can be terrifying, shocking, and even dangerous which just goes to show that a brand will do almost anything to catch the eye of its target consumer. When action-thriller “Mission Impossible III” was released in theaters in April of 2006, the Paramount Pictures promotion team came up with a marketing campaign involving placing red digital boxes covered in wires in 4,500 newspaper dispensers around Los Angeles, CA. These devices were meant to look like the bombs used in the film. When the dispenser’s door would open, these boxes would play the film’s theme song aloud. 

Did it work? No, they completely bombed it. This activation resulted in innocent bystanders believing that there was an actual bomb right in front of their faces, leading them to think they were in immediate danger and calling the authorities. Police got involved and eventually, a bomb squad was called into the area to evacuate a nearby building with over 300 people in it. 

“With the wires leading to the micro-switch on the news rack doors, I can easily see how someone might have misconstrued it as an improvised explosive device,” – Los Angeles sheriff’s sergeant at the time, Mike LaPerruque. 

This activation completely backfired and left Paramount Pictures, the Los Angeles Times, and the company’s advertising firm to pay $75,000 in negligence claims from the incident. This failed activation was a result of the promotions team not thinking the stunt all the way through and neglecting to think of the consequences of putting fake bombs around a huge city. 

“This was the least intended outcome. We weren’t expecting anything like this.” – John O’Loughlin,  Los Angeles Times Senior Vice President of Marketing, Planning and Development.


Shifting from Paramount Pictures, we focus our attention on the fashion brand, Diesel. In 2018, the company known for its denim and t-shirts decided to poke fun at the many bootleg shops that can be found along New York City’s Canal Street through a thorough brand activation. The clothing brand opened its very own store containing what appeared to be knockoff Diesel products. All items had “Diesel” purposely misspelled and printed across the front. The off-brand products caught many bystanders’ attention and lured them into the shop. Little did the consumers know, the products with the misspelled Diesel logo were actually real pieces made by the brand’s design team. 

Now, you’re probably wondering – did the activation work? It sure did. What started as a brand activation stunt quickly became a pop-up shop event. Rapper Gucci Mane, who was sponsored by the brand at the time, took to social media to tell his Instagram followers about the shop. Not long after, a line was wrapped around the outside of the store full of eager consumers willing to purchase the misspelled Diesel products. The activation was an effective way to promote the brand and its upcoming collection it had been set to release.

“The beauty of this idea is when we were telling them it was real, we were actually telling the truth! And they won’t believe it. It’s almost like a brain tease. ‘It is real!’ ‘No, it’s not real!’ ‘No, it is real!’ That’s the joy of this idea.” –  Andy Bird, Chief Creative Officer of Publicis New York 


What may sound like a great idea can easily turn into a PR disaster, which is exactly what Build-A-Bear experienced in 2018 when the company tried introducing its Pay Your Age Day at  stores worldwide. The one-day promotion allowed for buyers to purchase a bear, which normally cost anywhere between $14 and $40, for the amount of however old the individual was. The large turnout for the promotions resulted in long lines forming in front of the stores hours before the workshop even opened, creating as long as 8-hour waits to get in. 

Did the activation work? Maybe for a few hours! Once the evening rolled around, Build-A-Bear franchises began turning away consumers and shutting their doors. The company’s representatives took to social media to explain that there was an unexpected and overwhelming response to the promotion, however, they were willing to offer $15 vouchers to consumers who got turned away. Between losing customers and facing inventory troubles, Build-A-Bear definitely overestimated its abilities when planning this promotion. This example goes to show that in fact, PR activations take significant time dedicated towards preparation and thoughtful planning to be successfully executed. 

Whether a brand is trying to get the word out about its new movie, clothing line or product promotion, a PR activation is an interactive and effective way to generate awareness and grasp the attention of consumers. This is an important aspect of a campaign, as it allows a brand to genuinely connect with the public and get people excited about what’s yet to come.

How can a brand indicate whether its activation was successful or not? In order to determine this, companies must see how many people they were able to reach as a result of the activation. These days, social media plays a huge part in receiving brand awareness. Many brands utilize social media platforms to interact with their target audience after an activation and track social engagement. The most successful brand activations may end up going viral on social media or even make the daily news. 

As brands continue to create new things, we will continue to see them try to step out of the box and come up with innovative ways to get the public’s attention. That also means we will continue to see some brands fail miserably, and others completely thrive while trying to do so. As long as brands remain focused on creating engaging and memorable experiences for their consumers, PR activations will continue being heavily utilized in the industry time and time again. 


 By: Ray Lapoint

What is Authenticity?

Trapped behind cell phone screens and computer monitors, users of the digital world have become far removed from reality. So far removed that the future of marketing may very well depend on the focus and concentration of a single attribute. Authenticity.

Authenticity means being real or genuine. When thinking about personal authenticity, individuals believe this creates an opportunity for them to portray themselves in a unique, realistic way and withhold from the force of influence of others. Authenticity, as it relates to brand identity generates a similar perception in the eyes of their audiences. People want to feel as if their favorite brands are speaking directly to their personal values and beliefs. In other words, they want to have a connection with brands.

Advertisers and marketers believe that practicing authenticity and even transparency through marketing and advertising help customers connect with a brand, stimulate brand trust and help overcome consumer skepticism toward ads according to the American Marketing Association. This includes everything from your website, your social media interactions, partnerships, and campaign agendas. 

The average customer is smarter than we think.

When thinking about connecting with your consumers, your goal is to have them perceive your brand as genuine or real. Given the infinite spider web of the digital landscape and incredibly connected social world, audiences are no longer reacting to generic marketing and unrealistic expectations. People don’t react to “glossified” advertising anymore. Examples of this can be seen in the fast-food industry where the delivered product does not resemble the advertised result. We have all been there. Those fast food joints neglect the presentation factor when crafting delicious meals. The food insufficiently captures the experience leading to an unhappy customer. 

Consumers have ditched the ideals of perfection and have started craving something better. They crave authenticity. Buying into a brand is more than buying a product or service. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between consumers and a brand. A brand produces a genuine promise through a product or service, and consumers give their continued business in return.

It almost seems as if some marketing firms today have an agenda to maximize profit regardless of unrealistic product promises. For example, we have all experienced buying a product that has not met our expectations. Popular trends give evidence to this phenomenon like “Expectation vs. Reality” memes. 

Lack of genuine endorsements on social media

Brand ambassadors and paid influencers are great for promoting a brand’s image and products. Not only is this an opportunity for media influencers to share personal experiences and curate new content, but it also illustrates a brand’s identity. Although these paid sponsorships generate mutually beneficial relationships for an influencer and a brand, in some cases, these relationships are solely based on follow-count and not sharing similar values or beliefs. 

Say a strictly vegan-based brand wants to hire a rising influencer to promote their new line of vegan, sustainable and dairy-free milk to their 1 million followers. The brand might think it is a grand idea to work with them in promoting their product for their high follower count. Meanwhile, the influencer posts content of them grilling and eating animal meat and wearing real animal fur on their social media. In this example, it is evident this influencer does not share the same values as the brand which could lead to potential upset with customers of the brand as well.

Failed social media endorsement 

When social media influencers or brand ambassadors endorse a product, their content needs to be genuine or real otherwise it may have a negative impact. Bootea, a fitness and detox brand had to make their mistake first in order to learn from it. The brand had partnered with Scott Disick who is known for his appearance in the reality TV series Keeping up with the Kardashians. Disick missed the mark when he posted on Instagram with the direct instructions given to him by the brand. This shows the audience that he did not generate a personal caption putting the brand in an embarrassing position.  

Some viewers of these marketing advertisements may see these as misleading or ungenuine endorsements for products. Can these products keep their promises when they pay influencers to read a generic script and sample a product? How do we know if their support is genuine? It is an uphill battle for public relations professionals to find influencers that align fairly well with the brand’s voice, yet they are crucial in securing an authentic relationship with your target audience.

Where does that leave the future of marketing?

Connecting with consumers has never been more of a challenge for brands. How are future marketers supposed to combat this likely dark path of falsehood? Leveraging authenticity to attract existing and new customers is critical. An easy way to practice this is to diversify your content and implement strategies different from that currently in the marketing world. Numb is the feeling you get when something is no longer affecting you. Similar to recycled marketing approaches, you aren’t getting the same response as you once did thus, calling for a fresh angle.

The customer-centric model requires “a deep understanding of the social, financial, emotional and intellectual needs of the buyer at certain stages, along with what they enjoy outside of the buyer’s journey” says Forbes Councils Member, Jessica Scanlon.

Understanding what your customers want and needs are undoubtedly important to know, however understanding their beliefs and values give way to more opportunities for growth and acceptance. Utilizing what we know about our audiences can help us as marketers gauge the brand tone and voice we want to portray. Not only that, we need to understand the simple human truths and connect them to the values behind our brand.


By Dominique DeVivo

Inside look at Failed Campaigns

Behind-the-scenes factors play a vital part in successful campaigns. Many fashion brands are under a microscope with their large customer fanbases. One wrong move may result in a backlash from countless consumers. Not only do these failed strategies reflect badly on the company, but often result in a decline in customer sales and a lost connection between the brand and its target consumer. Developing a relationship between the brand and the consumer can be beneficial to the company’s success. Forming a bond between the two allows trust to build between the brand and the consumer. Breaking this bond will steer away customers and damage the trust that was built. Ideally, consumers want to feel a personal connection to the brand that promotes and reflects their values. Focusing on where these three notorious fashion brands H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Dolce & Gabanna went wrong in their campaign process.

H&M’s Greenwashing

Fashion trends are fleeting, and many stores have responded by using textiles that are cheap but not recyclable. Textile waste is a huge problem for the environment.

“Next to oil, fashion in its broadest sense, fast fashion, to leather to denim, is the next biggest industrial polluter of the world’s waterways.”

Filmmaker Mark Angelo in his documentary, RiverBlue.

H&M saw backlash from their scorecard system that was created to show how environmentally friendly their products were. H&M’s positioning as an environmentally conscious company proved to be flawed when false information arose from the scorecards. The company claimed products to be better for the environment than they actually were. False claims were also unveiled when the company claimed these products were sustainable, in reality, they were not.

H&M is now seen as a fashion company that doesn’t tell the truth about its involvement in environmental issues. In-store recycling bins have been put in place with the goal to revitalize garments into new clothing. Only 35% of the clothing that was collected went to be recycled.

Victoria’s Secret Failed Body Inclusivity

Victoria’s Secret, a world-renowned brand most known for intimates is also known for its models ranging in smaller sizes compared to the average woman. As of 2014 competitor brand, Aerie has prided itself on unretouched photography and specifically in its AerieReal campaign. This campaign from Aerie brought both success and consumer loyalty to the brand. The campaign focused on leaving all photos raw and unedited which positioned Aerie as a brand that wants its consumers to feel happy in their own skin. Aerie took this opportunity to showcase women of all different shapes and sizes which is something that Victoria’s Secret was failing to do all along.

 The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, a major event in this industry has not only put an image of beauty into young minds but has continued to showcase models that decreased in size as the show continued to gain fame. This breach of trust damaged the bond between the consumer and the brand. Despite all of this Victoria’s Secret has attempted to rebrand its company and image by utilizing models of all size ranges. In 2015 they released a campaign that claimed to have lingerie for all body types. Once again, they failed their customers and missed the mark by showcasing models of similar sizes and no diversity among them. VS’s rebranding was a poor strategic idea due to the fact their image was not changing. After receiving backlash for years, they continued to follow the same strategy.

“Collectively, models shrank roughly two inches across their bustlines, one inch around their waistlines, and nearly half an inch off their hiplines. The models’ average dress size decreased from 5.2 to 3.7 over the same span of time. Despite these dramatic differences, their WHR and height stayed nearly identical.

Gina Digravio

Their idea of beauty has shaped millions of young women’s perceptions of what their ideal bodies should be. This beauty standard Victoria’s Secret stands behind was never targeted to women of all sizes. Victoria’s Secret has proved multiple times that it is positioned towards men’s standards of women and does not pertain to women of all sizes.

Victoria’s Secret allowed a competitor brand to lure customers away from them by appealing to all women, something that VS failed to accomplish.  

Dolce & Gabanna Sneakers

While many public relations campaigns succeed, that’s not always the case. As campaigns continue to evolve, several questions come to mind. Where do campaigns go wrong? What campaigns from large companies have failed in their strategy? The campaign process is always talked about, but where the campaigns go wrong is a different story. Defining these disconnects in the pr strategy increases consumer awareness of what not to do when developing a campaign.

Dolce & Gabanna, the luxury company known for its Mediterranean style, is also missing the mark. In 2017 a sneaker hit the market that caused a commotion in the marketplace. The sneaker retailed for $973 remarked, “I’m thin and gorgeous” in large font on the side of the shoe. The shoe was first released to the public at Milan Men’s Fashion Week. Not only did this shoe reveal a lack of body inclusivity it directly reflected back on the brand and its image.

“Though there may be an element of cheeky humor at play in the design of these sneakers, equating thinness and beauty with success and status is a message that hurts everyone.”

Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association

Dolce & Gabanna’s designer, Stefano Gabanna, responded to comments that seemed to only make the situation worse. Gabanna went to social media to repost articles that addressed the sneaker in a bad light. Gabanna’s Instagram caption responding to this issue said, “When idiocy distorts reality…next time we’ll write LOVE TO BE FAT AND FULL OF CHOLESTEROL…the most stupid post ever.” Not only did Dolce & Gabanna spark a sensitive topic with this shoe they also seemed to have no initiative in addressing the matter at hand.

The Necessary Change Today

These fashion companies have not only failed in their PR strategy but also their loyal customers. Maybe the solution is not with the strategy but within the company itself. Many companies forget the importance of adjusting to our evolving world. Opening your brand to changes also opens the door to more successful campaigns. We know that change is necessary and companies in the future need to react to these failed processes and learn from them.

Many steps can be put in place to prevent these pr strategies mentioned from happening again. Some strategies to follow when developing a campaign include understanding your target audience and their wants and needs, being sensitive to tough topics and issues, bringing in multiple ideas and diverse opinions when formulating a new campaign, and being open to change. Every PR campaign is different and discussing the bad may ultimately form the good.


By Kianna Rodriguez

Shaking Up the Consumer 

As a bartender, I understand that the job isn’t just about mixing a great cocktail. Customer relationships are at the heart of what I do. Bartenders possess not only drink-making skills but the ability to connect with customers through conversation and advice. Bartenders possess a special skill, almost a superpower called listening. Bartenders listen to feedback on drinks and learn what makes customers tick. We listen to customers’ thoughts and motivations. By engaging in conversations with them about any topic that they want to cover. People come in and talk about various topics from their relationships, friendships, and work life to home life, politics and more. As a budding advertising and public relations professional, I can see how this deep dive into the feelings and thoughts of the customer should inform my work.

Creating a Meaningful Relationship 

We listen to the customer and learn their favorite things, their careers, their background, and their hopes and dreams for the future. But we also learn about what they fear in the world, from people to places to things. Taking in all this information is beneficial to my college career as an advertising and public relations student. Why? Because I can see a deep understanding of the consumer as the only way to help a brand connect on a meaningful level. I can help brands find new ways to connect with customers.

All brands need to find a way to connect to their customers on a different level. For example, Dove released a campaign called “Reverse Selfie”  which showed the effects of social media standards on young women. Young girls heavily edit their pictures and constantly stare at themselves in the mirror. Now when they are looking in the mirror they are not admiring their beauty but judging their imperfections. But Dove knew the new generation was getting impacted by beauty standards and how girls “should look.” They showed, in reverse, how girls don’t need to live up to unrealistic standards.

The campaign aimed to “reverse” the negative effects of social media on young girls. 

Another example is Apple’s campaign called “The Underdogs” which shows a team of four at a company creating the design for a round pizza box and presenting it to their boss in short order. Apple knew they had to connect to people in a new light and chose to do this campaign about how Apple can help people succeed with their products and software. They knew they had to connect to their audience in a different way, they knew people worked hard to reach their goals and they showed that their company is here to help the consumer achieve their specific goal. Apple shows that their merchandise is to help people that want to achieve their goals. They show in the video how to use almost every Apple product and the capabilities of the products, like tools that can be used for work to be more productive. 

Listening to Consumers

These brands listened to their consumers. They learned how to connect with them on a deeper level. They learned what motivates customers to behave in a certain way. Being the right type of account planner means finding the right motivation to influence a campaign. As a bartender, I listen to what concerns people and what excites them. I take that back to my advertising and public relations classwork. I find a deeper, meaningful way to connect to consumers. Finding that deeper connection means consumers express a higher level of customer satisfaction and loyalty to the brand. I take this information and help our campaigns engage consumers on a deeper level. My job as a bartender helped me engage consumers and understand their feelings and emotions, which really matters for the work we do at The Martin Hall Agency.

Dove. (2021, April 20). Dove | reverse selfie | have #theselfietalk. YouTube. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from 

Apple. (2019, April 2). Apple at work – the underdogs. YouTube. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from 

Rawat, A. (n.d.). 10 ways bartenders can self-learn & improve their skills. Bartenders Business. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from

Prange, J. (2022, February 9). Bartending 101: Conversation do’s and don’ts for bartenders. TouchBistro. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from 


By Grace Campbell

The Power of Music 

In 2000, the Virginia Tech Hokies athletic department was given three songs to choose from as their walkout song – “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses and “Sirius”  by the Alan Parsons Project. They chose the popular nineties song by Metallica. As “Enter Sandman,” played for the first time when the Hokies came out in 2000, a new age began for college football. Much later, in 2021 against ACC rival North Carolina, noise levels were so loud from Lane Stadium during the walkout that a nearby seismograph registered noise – needless to say, the reaction from the fans was astounding! Although the song is relatively new by ‘tradition’ standards (only being used by the Hokies for twenty-two years), it has become arguably the best and most renowned entrance in all of college football. Now, when someone hears “Enter Sandman, they think of the noise of the game, of the experience. They think about their time in college, or of a game-watching party. But above all else, they think of the Virginia Tech Hokies. This connection between the Hokies and their fans was made by utilizing a popular song and has forever made both one aspect of college football and “Enter Sandman,” relevant far beyond their years. How can we accomplish this same thing in our, or our client’s brand? 

Enter Sandman at Lane Stadium

By purchasing popular music and utilizing it in a way that works together with a brand identity, a company can create similar levels of engagement and brand awareness without having to do anything more than use the music purchased when promoting its brand. Additionally, by incorporating the ‘right’ music choice into a campaign, a brand can create an even more powerful identity or theme in the messaging of an advertisement. If just the song “Enter Sandman,” can strike fear into the hearts of Virginia Tech’s opponents, what could the right music selection do for an advertisement? 

How to Acquire the Rights To A Song

In order to use any music created by an artist, a company must first acquire rights to use that music in campaigns, advertisements, on social media, or generally for any other purpose than just listening to it. You can do it by answering these four questions: 

  1. Is the song copyrighted or in public domain?
    • If a song is copyrighted (which popular songs almost always are) then there are several hoops to jump through before you can legally use it commercially.
    • If a song is in the public domain, then you can legally use that song commercially.
      1. Public domain is when a song can be used by the public for free, with no need to request permission for any reason 
  1. Have you reached out to the creator?
    • For popular music, there are generally multiple people involved when creating a song. It is important to reach out to all of them!
  2. How much are you willing to pay?
    • There is no set price for a copyrighted song. The price can vary depending on the agreement. Do you want all rights to the song, or only the ability to use it for specific things?
    • You get to negotiate how much you’re willing to pay an artist. 
  1. Have you both signed the paperwork?
    • Once the negotiation is completed and both parties are satisfied with the agreement, contact a lawyer to make things official. 
    • Once the lawyer approves, payment can proceed and a contract can be signed. 
    • You’ve got the rights to commercially use a song! 

The Cost 

Although the cost of purchasing the rights to a song can drastically vary, it generally depends on two factors. 

  1. How popular the artist is you’re working with? 
  2. How much potential does that song has to make money?

For example, Bruce Springsteen made a deal with Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing to sell several master recordings of unreleased work and his publishing catalog for $500 million in December 2021. Another example would be when Hipgnosis (a song investment company out of the UK) paid an estimated $150 million for fifty percent of over 1,000 songs written by Neil Young in January 2021. 

When looking at purchasing the licensing of one song, that too can vary. Generally, you can purchase the rights to use a song commercially from an unknown or smaller artist for anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars. In bigger deals, a company can choose to either buy rights to the music outright and pay a lump sum, or develop a contract where the artist gets a set percentage of the revenue generated by the advertisement in which their music is featured. 

Additional things to consider when walking through the cost of using any piece of music in longevity. How long will you use this music? How many times will it be played? Across how many platforms? These questions come into play when writing up contracts and are things for both parties to consider before writing up a contract and agreeing on payment. 

The Pros, Cons and Example 

Now that you understand how music licensing works and how a brand can acquire the rights to commercially use music, let’s determine if the “juice is worth the squeeze,” or if all of this work is worth it. In this example, we’re going to choose Harry Styles’s song “Music For A Sushi Restaurant” and determine the pros and cons of using his song in an advertisement. 

Harry Styles


  • Harry Styles has over 101 million social media followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • His song “As It Was” remained in the Billboard top hundred for 15 weeks. He is the second longest-reigning artist to hold a space for that long.
  • “Music For A Sushi Restaurant” was eighth on Billboard Top one hundred for 13 weeks.
  • International recognition of advertisement due to relation with an internationally recognized artist and song.
  • Opportunity to positively promote the brand with a celebrity who is generally loved and held with respect and admiration in the public eye. Less concern with scandals or PR emergencies. 


  • Purchasing rights to his music would be a complicated and expensive process.
  • Depending on the content of the advertisement or brand, fans might be hesitant to support it regardless of music and celebrity association. Example: the infamous Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner, or their “Brown Sugar” commercial.
  • The production of the advertisement can leave the brand in the red if the campaign does not succeed.
  • The song may not connect with the messaging goal or overarching brand idea for the advertisement or campaign. 

It is important to keep the brand and idea in mind when selecting music. Even the most famous song that does not conceptually connect to the brand and the idea could end up being a complete waste of money. An example of this can be found in the 1990 Pepsi TV commercial “Brown Sugar” which featured the song “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones. This commercial features a fly singing “Brown Sugar” after drinking Pepsi in a very high-pitched voice. Many comments call the advertisement “disturbing” or “confusing.” The selection of this song might have been the correct choice for the specified target audience, but the way in which it was connected back to the brand or conveyed to the audience was not successful. 

There are, however,  several benefits to aligning your brand or campaign with a piece of music. Ultimately much of a brand’s association with the music will depend on how it is used, in what setting and how often it is played. Apple does a great job of using many different types of popular music in their advertisements, such as using Payday’s “Big Boy” in the iPhone 14 reveal – a song that a Gen Z target audience would know and enjoy. 

If the goal of any brand is to stay relevant, then using music that connects with its target audience is crucial. By having a brand associated with a song, the two become one and the same and the audience will come to enjoy the brand just as much as they enjoy the music. In knowing this, we can come to the conclusion that purchasing rights and working with popular musicians is beneficial for growing and developing a brand identity and staying relevant in the eyes of the brand’s target audience. There are millions of songs to choose from, and more are being made every day. If a brand can create the same excitement that Lane Stadium gets for the Hokies, then it will stay relevant for decades to come. 


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