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When Brands Become Fans
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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Wouldn’t it be nice if brands could honor their customers the way their customers honor them? You give a brand your money, recommend it to your friends, carry around its branded products…but when was the last time a brand did something really nice for you, personally? Like tattoo your face on its Marketing VP’s arm, or mow your name into the grass in front of its headquarters? Ask a Honda fan.

In collaboration with its advertising agency RPA, Honda is celebrating gaining 1 million Facebook “Likes” during its "Honda Loves You Back" campaign by reciprocating fans’ love in some interesting and at times extraordinary ways. During a special "We're Fans of You Too" Week, Honda associates paid tribute to some select Honda lovers to show gratitude for fans’ dedication.

Honda fan Chris mowed a Honda logo into his lawn; Honda mowed the name “Chris” on the lawn at its corporate headquarters main entrance. Honda fan Anny had the Honda logo shaved into his hair; a Honda associate got the name “Anny” shaved into his hair. Honda fan Christina painted Honda logos on her toenails; Honda's Assistant Manager of Interactive Marketing, Karen, had the name “Christina” painted on her toenails. Honda fan Dustin got a Honda logo tattoo; Honda's VP of Marketing, Steve Center, got an airbrushed tattoo of Dustin’s face and name.

Honda’s Social Media Strategist Alicia Jones explained, “We're honored to have one million Honda brand Facebook fans and we wanted to show our appreciation in a meaningful way…We're so fortunate to have amazing and dedicated Honda brand fans. And, that's the kind of commitment our associates have to our fans."

Rather than going the generic route, say by offering some sort of promotion, Honda chose to show its gratitude in a much more personal — and fun and quirky and exciting — way. Every day, customers are endorsing brands without even intending to, whether it’s by wearing a shirt emblazoned with a brand logo or driving a vehicle made by a particular automaker. But sometimes, particularly passionate customers may choose to go above and beyond to show their appreciation for a particular brand’s product or service. It’s very sweet for these fans to receive special reciprocation from the brand, and may even encourage other less “vocal” fans to become stronger brand ambassadors.

Sure, the thought of getting a corporate brand logo tattooed on one’s body may seem a bit extreme to most of us, but that was Dustin’s prerogative, and if getting a Honda tattoo makes him happy, bless him. Regardless, that is certainly the kind of endorsement that deserves some sort of acknowledgement from a brand. And while I don’t exactly hope this sparks a trend of branded tattoos, I wouldn’t be disappointed if more brands took the opportunity to communicate and show gratitude on a more personal level.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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