Jumping on the Bandwagon

 Bandwagon (noun)

an activity, group, movement, etc. that has become successful or fashionable and so attracts many new people: a bandwagon effect.
This week I’ve been thinking about opportunistic brands making use of trending hashtags (primarily on Twitter).  After the Chinese box incident, I’ve been wondering if it’s always a good thing for brands to use the latest hashtag as a means of promotion, especially when they have nothing to do with their industry.
For me, the strongest example that springs to mind is The Dress.
I don't care what colour it is, it's still ugly.
I don’t care what colour it is, it’s still ugly.

Although ‘The Dress’ started out as a clever PR stunt for Roman Originals, other companies quickly jumped on social media to have their say.  Some of the most popular examples were:


With companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Lego creating products specifically centred around The Dress debate, it made other organisations’ attempts seem a bit half-hearted.


You can see more of The Dress tweets here.

So, did jumping on this bandwagon do the brands any good?

Personally, I think that even though most of the brands aren’t in the same industry as Roman Originals, they made a good effort.  I’m all for embracing a bit of cheek and humour to promote a product, and in this case for organisations like Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts and  Lego I don’t think it’s done them any harm.  However, for companies like Lyft and A&W who just seem to be using the hashtag without careful thought it just seems a bit lazy and half-hearted, qualities I don’t look for in a trusted brand.

For me, if you’re going to make use of a trending hashtag, do it with some style and don’t let the topicality overthrow your key messages.  When I look at the examples above, only Dunkin’ Donuts and Lego have been able to communicate an appropriate message about their brand, other than the colour of their logo.

The winner for me has the be the Salvation Army, whose thoughtful and poignant response took a few days to arrive.


I love this response. Not only does it use The Dress as a means of promotion, making use of the social media buzz, it raises awareness of an important issue their organisation is aiming to combat.

Out of all of the responses, this is the only one that I feel uses the topicality to its full advantage.

Even though The Dress debate was over a few months ago, I still feel it’s the strongest example of where brands can win or lose based on how and when they chose to jump on the bandwagon. I’ll certainly be bearing this in mind when the next viral hashtag comes around.

What do you think? Is it always appropriate for a company to Tweet about a trending hashtag? If they don’t are they missing an opportunity? Or being responsible about how they communicate their values?