Hoover announced on its Facebook Page that it would be pulling all of its ABC advertising to protect the network's cancellation of two popular soap operas.
This week, ABC announced it would cancel two of its popular soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live. When Hoover marketing executive Brian Kirkendall heard the news, he decided to do something about it. He made the executive decision to pull all of Hoover's ads that run during the shows in a boycott intended to support soap opera fans. The announcement was posted on Hoover's Facebook page on Monday:
From the AP article:
"I'm not trying to be a martyr," Kirkendall said. "I'm just reacting to what our consumers said."
The gesture seems relatively sincere. Communication strategist Amber Avines' reaction was my first reaction, too: what a brilliant way to show you really understand your fans' true passions by supporting a part of their lives that they love, even if it has little to do with your actual product. It's a brilliant way to engage fans and show commonalities. When I speak of acting like a person, not a brand, this is exactly the kind of communication I'm referring to:
One of the things that makes companies successful when it comes to social media is finding out what its customers are concerned about. Do Hoover's customers want to know the best vacuum to get pet dander out of the carpet? For sure. But, just talking about vacuums all the time doesn't make for great social media. What does, however, is remembering that customers have other interests, too. And soaps, well, those are a big part of everyday life for many stay-at-home moms, seniors, college students, and other people who have dirty carpets! --Amber Avines
There are other sides to the coin, however. Consumer Reports reports that Hoover is slipping in its reliability ratings and is no longer the top choice for upright vacuums in terms of product reliability. The article's title reveals what CR believes to be the motivation behind the announcement: Hoover vacuum's soap-opera saga could boost sales.
Likewise, BNet posits that the move is mostly a hollow, bogus gesture, albeit an act of "PR Genius." Jim Edwards points out that Hoover's overall ad spend on ABC is only $353,000 out of a total TV budget of $2.5 million. "That’s such a tiny amount for television most marketers would consider spending it on a less fleeting medium," he reports. Perhaps I'm not quite as cynical, but cutting 7% of the advertising budget overnight in order to support the fans' passions sounds fairly dramatic to me. OK, maybe it wasn't the hugest sacrifice in the world, but it was a sincere action that rallied and engaged fans.
What isn't in dispute is the amount of fan engagement Hoover is being showered with on its Facebook page. The number of people Liking Hoover on Facebook jumped from around 7,000 before the announcement to over 13,000 fans as of this morning. Additionally, a Soap Opera Digest columnist asked its fans to make this coming Friday "Buy a Hoover Day" to support the company's boycott of ABC.
Also of note is that Hoover's first Facebook post about the soap cancellations garnered 51 Likes and and 59 Comments, while the announcement that it would pull its ABC advertising garnered 669 Likes and 349 Comments. A clearer indication of fan engagement you could rarely find: Hoover fans support and admire the decision to pull advertising from ABC. Detractors aside, the results speak for themselves. These fans are engaged.