Gini Dietrich

The Lesson Brands Can Learn from Ragu

By: Gini Dietrich | October 5, 2011 | 
113

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ragu and the “crisis” they created by tweeting their video to social dads in a very offensive, and spammy, way.

Having read what C.C. Chapman (here, here, and here) and Adam Singer and Arik Hanson and Michael Schechter (on this very blog yesterday) wrote, I think everyone is missing the biggest lesson of all: Twitter is not a promotion and publicity tool. It’s not a sales tool. It is a social tool.

Granted, I’m not sitting in the room with Ragu and their agency while they decide their strategy, but based on experience, I can make an educated guess that they likely used Klout to determine who to target with their tweets.

And what do we all know about Klout? It’s a great FIRST step in determining influencers if you don’t already know who they are (and if you’re in PR and you don’t know who your client’s or company’s influencers are, shame on you!). But it’s NOT the way you develop your list and begin sending links to those perceived influencers.

Let me show you what I mean.

Following is their tweet stream the night this all broke loose.

For those of you who use Twitter, do you see the problem?

For those of you who don’t use Twitter, how does this make you feel?

This is akin to standing in the grocery store, seeing a man walk in (with or without kids or even with or without a wedding ring on) and saying, “Who makes dinner in your house? Mom or dad?” and then throwing a jar of Ragu at him.

Now let’s say you’re standing in the grocery store and you ask every man who walks into the store the same question, while throwing a jar of Ragu at him, and the first man you did this with is leaving the grocery store at the same time.

What do you think he’s thinking about you and your jar of Ragu as he hurries to his car, in fear of being accosted again?

It’s not good. In fact, he’s probably hurrying home to tell his wife or girlfriend or partner what a weird experience he, and every man in the grocery store, had with the people from Ragu.

Now multiply that by 1,000.

Adam Singer said it best during a speech he gave this past spring: If you aren’t using the tools yourself, you won’t understand how to use them effectively for your client or your company.

So, the moral of the story to businesses around the globe, if you want to use the social tools to help build awareness and increase your sales, make sure you’re working with people who understand their use. It’s easy to discover whether or not they’re using the tools themselves because it’s all online.

Don’t just take their word for it. Do your due diligence. Find out what other successes, and failures, they’ve had.

It used to be companies hired PR firms for the relationships they had, or could easily create, with journalists. Now you hire them for their expertise not only in the digital world and integrating it with traditional tactics, but also in creating relationships with bloggers and influencers to match those with journalists.

Please, please, please make sure the experts you’re working with understand, and have relationships with, the influencers you want to target. And that they understand how each tool is used differently, but in an integrated way.

That will help you avoid some of these issues.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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113 Comments on "The Lesson Brands Can Learn from Ragu"

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KarenARocks
KarenARocks
4 years 6 months ago

I hate getting bombarded with tweets that pretend they are trying to have a conversation with you, but in reality they are just pushing a product. It makes me run the other way. Fast. Did Ragu not know Twitter is a social site, not a spam site? Maybe they were promoting a new sauce…Ragu with a Chunky Spam Sauce.

KarenARocks
KarenARocks
4 years 6 months ago

I hate getting bombarded with tweets that pretend they are trying to have a conversation with you, but in reality they are just pushing a product. It makes me run the other way. Fast. Did Ragu not know Twitter is a social site, not a spam site? Maybe they were promoting a new sauce…Ragu with a Chunky Spam Sauce.

KenMueller
4 years 6 months ago
This is why even though it says “Social Media Marketing” on my web site, the first thing I do with a client is tell them I’m not there to help them with marketing. I’m there to help them socialize their business model. When you approach social media as a marketing tool, the first inclination is to fit the old square peg traditional advertising methods into a round hole. It doesn’t work. The fact that big businesses still struggle with this as well as small businesses, shows they aren’t paying attention and doing their research. Makes me want to poke my… Read more »
KenMueller
4 years 6 months ago
This is why even though it says “Social Media Marketing” on my web site, the first thing I do with a client is tell them I’m not there to help them with marketing. I’m there to help them socialize their business model. When you approach social media as a marketing tool, the first inclination is to fit the old square peg traditional advertising methods into a round hole. It doesn’t work. The fact that big businesses still struggle with this as well as small businesses, shows they aren’t paying attention and doing their research. Makes me want to poke my… Read more »
KenMueller
4 years 6 months ago
This is why even though it says “Social Media Marketing” on my web site, the first thing I do with a client is tell them I’m not there to help them with marketing. I’m there to help them socialize their business model. When you approach social media as a marketing tool, the first inclination is to fit the old square peg traditional advertising methods into a round hole. It doesn’t work. The fact that big businesses still struggle with this as well as small businesses, shows they aren’t paying attention and doing their research. Makes me want to poke my… Read more »
ThomasBSmith1
ThomasBSmith1
4 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich So Plse help re-tweet http://www.buffalobeach.co.za as every small pledge help create much needed jobs

pureairsystems
pureairsystems
4 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich Sorry! Saying Twitter is not a corporate “tool” is like saying water is not for drinking! Can’t have it both ways.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@KarenARocks Chunky Spam Sauce. LOL! My guess is they did the typical “we need to use Twitter,” but had no clue what that meant.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@pureairsystems I didn’t say that. I said it’s not a sales tool. Did you read the blog post? It absolutely is a corporate tool.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@KenMueller Poking your eyes out with a hot Sharpie sounds painful. Can you even get a Sharpie hot enough to do that?

You and I are in agreement. It makes me nuts when companies think they’ve integrated, but all they’re doing is using the same message across platforms.

adamtoporek
4 years 6 months ago

Yeah, I have to say the @-mentions make that completely spammy. Who told them that was good idea?

I think large brands that are not typically evangelized brands are still trying to figure out how social works for them. It’s easy to point at Apple or Southwest and say, look they’re great at social. But what should brands like Ragu or Stouffer’s do? (Besides stopping what they shouldn’t be doing!) Where does social fit into their marketing mix and how does it add value?

I think this is the part where I tag in @skypulsemedia

adamtoporek
4 years 6 months ago

tagging is not working?

KenMueller
4 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich it’s not even about using the same message across platforms. IN most cases the message should be unified. It’s the means of presenting that message that has to change.

and You and I almost always agree. Get used to it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@kmjeffrice Mmmmm….I love pasta.

JayDolan
4 years 6 months ago

Wait. You mean people don’t get on social networks to get promotional and sales messages from brands, but rather to connect with other human beings and share messages about this thing called life?

I have been horribly mistaken for a while now.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@KenMueller I think we’re talking semantics. The messages should be unified, but buy my product works in advertising and not on social media.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@KenMueller I think we’re talking semantics. The messages should be unified, but buy my product works in advertising and not on social media.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@KenMueller I think we’re talking semantics. The messages should be unified, but buy my product works in advertising and not on social media.

krusk
krusk
4 years 6 months ago

Have you read this response from Ragu on MediaPost?

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=159815

Honestly makes me a little uneasy, seems they are accepting responsibility for their message being misunderstood–which I think misses the point a little…

krusk
krusk
4 years 6 months ago

Have you read this response from Ragu on MediaPost?

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=159815

Honestly makes me a little uneasy, seems they are accepting responsibility for their message being misunderstood–which I think misses the point a little…

krusk
krusk
4 years 6 months ago

Have you read this response from Ragu on MediaPost?

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=159815

Honestly makes me a little uneasy, seems they are accepting responsibility for their message being misunderstood–which I think misses the point a little…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@JayDolan Yeah. Well, wait until you go to LA. Then you’ll be really disturbed.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@adamtoporek It’s working – I saw the tag on Twitter.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@adamtoporek I have LOTS of ideas, but brands never ask me.

MSchechter
MSchechter
4 years 6 months ago

That’s totally what I meant to say…

JayDolan
4 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich What do I have to be afraid of? Celebrities? Drug dealers? Guys in the grocery stores who throw glass jars of Ragu pasta sauce at customers?

adamtoporek
4 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich That was a manual tweet. See the extra miles I go for you. :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@krusk Oh no! I didn’t see it. I’ll go read it and be back in a minute.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@MSchechter Your blog post was fantastic! Your lessons were more geared toward the influencers, which was needed and appreciated. I’m just irritated by the lack of knowledge that companies are using, when it comes to the social tools. It’s not like no one is writing about them.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@krusk I have to let this sink in. One of the things Domino’s did really well, when they were under attack a couple of years ago, is they took to the platform where they were being attacked. Using a traditional PR tactic to explain your social mess seems off. I have to think about it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@JayDolan Yes.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 6 months ago

@adamtoporek Really?! WTH?

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg
4 years 6 months ago
“If you aren’t using the tools yourself, you won’t understand how to use them effectively for your client or your company.” <I love that quote. I couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, I would have said it much worse, possibly using a profane word or three, and casting aspersions on their intelligence, hair cut, and personal hygene. People who want the next big shinny thing in tech, but are waaaaay too cool to actually stoop to level of the 'dregs who use that stuff' (me), and give it a try, piss me off. I hadn't actually heard about… Read more »
DavidPylyp
DavidPylyp
4 years 6 months ago

This is a wonderful post about walking into a room [business] screaming about your brand and walking out. @unmarketing makes this point directly when he talks about real estate agents who’s entire twitter / facebook stream is about their listings.

Social Media is about being social, engaging and communicating with people.

I’m Trying to Get it!

David Pylyp

CarlThress
4 years 6 months ago
@krusk Just read the response and found it puzzling that Unilever is taking the recipients of these tweets to task for basing their criticism on the very content that Ragu shared in the tweets. “Very few of the most vocal opponents appeared to take the time to visit the Ragú community on Facebook or watch the other episodes in the series before taking to Twitter and the blogsphere with a point of view conceived via the lens of six errant tweets.” Ummm…. maybe that’s because those six errant tweets were the ONLY engagement Ragu ever had with them. Did Ragu… Read more »
CarlThress
4 years 6 months ago
@krusk Just read the response and found it puzzling that Unilever is taking the recipients of these tweets to task for basing their criticism on the very content that Ragu shared in the tweets. “Very few of the most vocal opponents appeared to take the time to visit the Ragú community on Facebook or watch the other episodes in the series before taking to Twitter and the blogsphere with a point of view conceived via the lens of six errant tweets.” Ummm…. maybe that’s because those six errant tweets were the ONLY engagement Ragu ever had with them. Did Ragu… Read more »
MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 6 months ago

Oh @ginidietrich how you are going to learn a lesson the hard way. For writing a lessons learned post your ridiculously amazing, home cooked, Italian feast, courtesy of me will now involve jarred sauce. Don’t ever cross me like this again.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg
4 years 6 months ago

@CarlThress@kruskI just read the link too. You hit the nail on the head, Carl. I think the ‘Fauxpology’ made me want to write my own blog piece ranting against their inability to admit their mistake.

Had they written, “We were wrong. We’re sorry. We’ll do better next time and try to be more engaging first.” I would have wanted to write a post forgiving them, while I enjoyed some of their product. Their would have been a photo and it would have looked yummy.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg
4 years 6 months ago

@CarlThress@kruskI just read the link too. You hit the nail on the head, Carl. I think the ‘Fauxpology’ made me want to write my own blog piece ranting against their inability to admit their mistake.

Had they written, “We were wrong. We’re sorry. We’ll do better next time and try to be more engaging first.” I would have wanted to write a post forgiving them, while I enjoyed some of their product. Their would have been a photo and it would have looked yummy.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg
4 years 6 months ago

@CarlThress@kruskI just read the link too. You hit the nail on the head, Carl. I think the ‘Fauxpology’ made me want to write my own blog piece ranting against their inability to admit their mistake.

Had they written, “We were wrong. We’re sorry. We’ll do better next time and try to be more engaging first.” I would have wanted to write a post forgiving them, while I enjoyed some of their product. Their would have been a photo and it would have looked yummy.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg
4 years 6 months ago

@CarlThress@kruskI just read the link too. You hit the nail on the head, Carl. I think the ‘Fauxpology’ made me want to write my own blog piece ranting against their inability to admit their mistake.

Had they written, “We were wrong. We’re sorry. We’ll do better next time and try to be more engaging first.” I would have wanted to write a post forgiving them, while I enjoyed some of their product. Their would have been a photo and it would have looked yummy.

krusk
krusk
4 years 6 months ago

@ExtremelyAvg@CarlThress Exactly, well said.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg
4 years 6 months ago

@KarenARocksI agree Karen, getting bombarded right out of the gate with a sales pitch takes away from your valuable time…which you could use…to say…read my novel (Henry Wood Detective Agency). I hate it when that happens.

In truth, I actually usually block those people on Twitter. Then I send out a tweet with the hash tag #blockopotamus and a few of my Twitter friends will then block them too.

CarlThress
4 years 6 months ago

@ExtremelyAvg@krusk ‘Fauxpology’ – I like that.

TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago
Gini, part of the problem is that many brands still haven’t figured out that giving control of social media to young and inexperienced staff is just as “dangerous” as it would be to do so in print/broadcast. In fact, we could argue that it is worse. With the immediacy of social media and the ease with which things can go viral it is quite risky to let the less experienced drive the car. On a side note there has been a push by fathers (myself included) to become a larger part of the conversation between brands and consumers. We can… Read more »
TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago
Gini, part of the problem is that many brands still haven’t figured out that giving control of social media to young and inexperienced staff is just as “dangerous” as it would be to do so in print/broadcast. In fact, we could argue that it is worse. With the immediacy of social media and the ease with which things can go viral it is quite risky to let the less experienced drive the car. On a side note there has been a push by fathers (myself included) to become a larger part of the conversation between brands and consumers. We can… Read more »
TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago

@krusk That is clearly not an apology. That is a thinly veiled slap at those who took issue with the incident. Why not come out and say that they think that CC and anyone else who took issue have trouble with reading comprehension.

TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago

@krusk That is clearly not an apology. That is a thinly veiled slap at those who took issue with the incident. Why not come out and say that they think that CC and anyone else who took issue have trouble with reading comprehension.

TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago

@krusk That is clearly not an apology. That is a thinly veiled slap at those who took issue with the incident. Why not come out and say that they think that CC and anyone else who took issue have trouble with reading comprehension.

TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago

@ExtremelyAvg@CarlThress@krusk Was it just me or did that “essay” sound like it was written by the boy/girl who got spanked for misbehaving.

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