Zig While Others Zag – Willie Nelson & Chipotle

In today’s cluttered world of traditional and social media, getting your message out – and heard – is the challenge we face in this business of public relations. To accomplish your goals, I’m convinced you have to “zig” while others “zag.”

And that’s where Willie Nelson comes in. Willie, known for his commitment to social causes, is also known for his willingness to tackle pretty much any musical challenge (let’s face it, who does a duet with Bob Dylan or records an album of 1930s standards?).

So, when Chipotle Mexican Grill launched a campaign to promote their commitment to sustainable farming, they turned to Willie who covered Coldplay’s “The Scientist” as the soundtrack for their “Back to the Start” short film. Willie Nelson sings Coldplay?

Well, it worked.

The film ran as a commercial during the recent Grammy Awards and Twitter was abuzz that night with fans tweeting that Willie did Coldplay better than Coldplay. Earned media impressions about the Chipotle and Willie pairing have to be in the tens of millions (and all with Chipotle’s key messages about sustainable farming). And the film has enjoyed more than 6.1 million views on YouTube.

The song has been so popular that it’s included on Willie’s highly acclaimed forthcoming album, “Heroes,” out in May that will surely include additional media coverage of the song and cause.

Perfect song. Perfect singer. They zigged instead of zagged.

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Internet Advertising – Are You Being Followed?

Recently, I found out via Facebook that one of my friends was engaged. Her ring was beautiful, and she shared that the ring was “conflict free and eco-friendly.” I was fascinated with this concept so I “Googled” the company her ring was purchased from – Brilliant Earth. I read all about its mining process and how it certifies its jewelry as conflict free. While I was fascinated by this process, I became even more fascinated with what happened next. I started noticing Brilliant Earth ads were following me from website to website, often featuring the rings I had looked at while visiting their site. It didn’t matter if I was on MSNBC, ESPN or checking my Yahoo mail. There were Brilliant Earth ads everywhere I looked.

I did some research and discovered that Brilliant Earth was tracking me. It had collected data from my computer while I was on their website about my browsing habits, and if I had made a purchase from them converting to my shopping habits. This is a process called Ad Tracking.

Brilliant Earth is not the only company participating in ad tracking. I have been followed by shoes from Zappos and countless other advertisements from websites I have visited.

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed “Do Not Track” for internet advertising. This would allow people to choose whether they want internet companies to collect information on their browsing habits, as well as information for other marketing purposes. As a consumer, it feels very big brother to see a pair of shoes I looked at two days ago staring at me while I read today’s headlines. I am truly torn about internet advertisers tracking my shopping and browsing habits. As an advertising professional, I think Ad Tracking is a wonderful thing. The advertiser can learn so much about the shopper, their habits and help them find products that fit their needs.

Internet Advertising is one of the fastest growing advertising opportunities today and technology is changing rapidly. I will be curious to see if ad tracking is something that stays or goes as time moves on. For now, I am heading to Zappos so that cute pair of Cole Haan shoes can follow me around for a few weeks.

To learn more about the FTC’s proposal please visit Ad Age.