Naughty and Nice: 7 Memorable Brands from 2012

By Michele Weisman

2012 was a year of breakthroughs, struggles and accomplishments. There were tragedies and milestones. And as the web and social media shared it all, 2012 flew by in an instant. From silly memes, gifs, and social good to serious social media crises, here are 7 memorable brands from 2012.


Nice list


Panera Bread: Brandon Cook posted a heartwarming customer service experience he had at his local Panera in New Hampshire on his personal Facebook profile. Brandon's mother liked the post so much, she reposted what Brandon had wrote on Panera's Facebook wall. This post received over half a million likes and fans began to share their gratitude towards Panera and its local store managers.
  • Lesson for marketersSurprise and delight your customers online and offline. Always strive to over deliver. A small act of customer service reaps huge rewards and is often celebrated across the web.

Con Edison: Through the devastating storm Hurricane Sandy, we saw an enormous contribution from social media in the pursuit of providing information, connecting with loved ones, as well as delivering updates. Con Edison's Twitter account was no exception as the utility company provided real time service status updates and safety tips to numerous powerless customers.

  • Lesson for marketers: The value of communicating clearly and efficiently through social media is more important than ever, especially during a time of discomfort and uncertainty.

Oreo: From March to October, Oreo celebrated 100 years of dunking in grand fashion. The Daily Twist campaign, a play on the “twist, lick, and dunk” routine performed by many Oreo-eaters, was witty and playful that had enormous reach and success. For its 100 day streak, Oreo posted a new image on its Facebook page each day that featured the cookie in a fun, and eye-catching way. Whether it was honoring the Mars Rover or celebrating LGBT Pride Month,  the images were never over promotional. Fans were always eager to check  the Facebook page every day to see what the next “Daily Twist” would be.

  • Lesson for marketersGet creative with product placement and have fun. Strategic content marketing can provide measurable results.

Aetna: Arijit Guha, a college student battling advanced colon cancer, used Twitter to debate with the CEO of his insurance company, Aetna. With multiple surgeries and chemotherapy sessions, Guha was left with extremely high medical bills.  The 31-year-old was facing potential medical bankruptcy. Guha voiced his frustration against Aetna and the health-insurance industry through tweets. To Guha's surprise, Aetna's CEO Mark Bertolini was listening and responded to Guha to address the issue. The result? Aetna agreed to pay the Guha's medical costs.

  • Lesson for marketers: Listening is the most valuable skill in business to succeed. It is crucial for your CEO to not only have a presence on social media but be active and listening. CEOs have the opportunity to humanize the brand, get access to new ideas and perspectives, listen to the brand's market and customers and ultimately do social good. In fact, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. By listening, you'll be able to understand customer and employee needs.
Naughty list


United Airlines: Since breaking Dave Carroll’s guitar back in 2009, United Airlines still struggles with customer service. In August, a 10-year-old girl missed her connection in Chicago because the airline's employees failed to show up. Bob Sutton, a Stanford professor and family friend of the 10-year-old girl, wrote a post on this customer service story. Sutton’s blog post struck a chord on Twitter and Facebook. Sooner than you can send a tweet, the post became viral and many chimed in with their own tales of how United failed them.
  • Lesson for marketers: Listen and address the situation promptly. Always offer an apology. Two of the most important words in social media is "I'm sorry." Go above and beyond the apology to surprise and delight. Ensure a return visit, future purchase, or referral is in your brand's favor.

McDonalds: The promoted trend, #McDStories, was intended to inspire positive, heart-warming customer stories about Happy Meals. Instead, some Twitter users weren't "lovin it" and revolted by turning the promoted hashtag into a "bashtag" to share their #McDHorrorStories.

  • Lesson for marketers: Just because a brand pays for the privilege of having its hashtag promoted on Twitter's homepage, doesn't mean it will be a positive conversation. Social media is spontaneous. Always prepare and have a plan in place.

Kitchen Aid: After President Obama mentioned his grandmother during the first presidential debate in October, the kitchen appliance manufacturer responded by accidentally posting a negative tweet to its 24,000 followers. However, Kitchen-Aid minimized the damage by quickly removing the tweet by issuing an apology soon after.

  • Lesson for marketers: Addressing negative issues quickly can improve your brand’s credibility. It is important to respond to these comments in a timely fashion. Fans and followers will recognize your transparency and will know that their opinions are valued. Humanize your brand.
What brands would you add to your 2012 naughty or nice social media list? Share in the comments below!