The Amazing Paradox of Negative PR for Coca Cola

Most people would agree that any PR is good PR; however, I don’t think I was the only one thinking that Coca-Cola did NOT see it coming on February 3rd - the day after the Superbowl final. I kept thinking that the brand is damaged, that sales would be affected negatively, and that some heads are probably rolling within TCCC (The Coca-Cola Company) in Atlanta. A simple piece of pre-advertising research could have told them that some people in the US are so patriotic, or perhaps we can even use the word racist, that they felt offended by the fact that people of other ethnicities were singing ‘America the Beautiful’ in their own language as opposed to English. All hell broke loose on Twitter and other social media platforms immediately after the ad was aired and continued for the following days and weeks.

Click here to download a free Coca-Cola Superbowl ad case study

We had initially harvested the posts with the intention of publishing a blog post showcasing eListen’s sentiment accuracy of over 85%; however since this wasn’t a paying project it kept falling to the bottom of the priority list to process, analyse, and create some content around it. Our thought was to use the approach “sales by fear”; we wanted to tell all the brands out there that they need to be constantly “listening” to online chatter about themselves and their competitors in order to be able to handle situations as they arise. They should not allow their brands to be at risk of negative PR and loss of brand equity, something potentially catastrophic in real business terms.

According to DigitalMR’s findings during the 8 days prior to the Superbowl, there were 139,997 posts about Coca-Cola in the English language; 22% Negative, 7% Positive and 71% Neutral. During the 8 days following the airing of the ad, the number increased by 169% to 376,382 posts. The interesting fact here is that although the number of posts increased by 169% after the campaign airing, the amount of negative posts still accounted for 22% of the total while positive posts jumped to 51%.

If you want to find out more about what really happened, and what the actual effect of the campaign was, please click here to download a slide deck with our findings, and stay tuned for the upcoming eBook on ‘The Positive Effect of Negativity’.


Microsoft plagiarising DigitalMR, or is this just an innocent coincidence?

Plagiarism Or CoincidenceI think you would all agree that if an SME sees a large and globally renowned company standing behind the same arguments and spreading the same message, their first thought would be: “We must be doing something right!”.

DigitalMR has been developing its eListen solution for the past couple of years, trying to convey that every brand needs to LISTEN to its customers in order to take the correct steps towards brand management and growth.  Using terms such as  ‘are you listening?’ and ‘there is a lot of noise’ we have been promoting eListen as a tool that “is listening for you” to provide actionable insights, while we make sure we eliminate the noise from the data and provide deliverables with high sentiment accuracy.  eListen is language agnostic and can reach up to 90% sentiment accuracy enabling brands to identify their influencers, track and measure their reach, and see how they compare to the competition. 

Microsoft - are you listeningYou can imagine our surprise when a few days ago we discovered that Microsoft is actually using terms almost identical to ours for their own social listening tool, a service available in their Dynamics CRM.  This new feature of the CRM only came after the acquisition of Netbreeze in 2013, so I can’t help but wonder if Netbreeze had been following us all along... 

It seems we are on the same page as far as the importance of listening, sentiment accuracy, and elimination of noise are concerned, and their eBook ‘Your Brand Sux – Turning Social Sentiment into Opportunity’ explains in full detail what we’ve been saying for so long.  The difference between Microsoft and DigitalMR is that they are a company of a pure technological background, while we are a unique combination of technology and market researchers, which is what enables us to provide insights in the first place.

It is only natural that the competition will most likely intensify as market research shifts towards the digital and more brands start realising how important and useful social media listening can be.  With that in mind, the fact that a large company like Microsoft “adopted” our messages at such an advanced stage of development is definitely perceived as some form of reassurance that we’re on the right track. 

You can find out more about eListen in the Solutions section of our website.  

Battle of the New MR Methodologies!

Text Analytics VS. Social Media Monitoring VS. MROC’s VS. Mobile

IIeX - June 16-18th 2014 On June 16-18, 2014 the Insight Innovation Exchange Conference will take place in Atlanta. I am privileged to be invited by the organizers to be a speaker as well as a panelist on a very exciting debate: 

The Great Methodology Debate: Which approaches really deliver on client needs?
Key experts in different areas have been selected to participate in this debate:

MichalisRepresenting Social Media Monitoring or Social Media Listening as we prefer to call it:

(Yours truly) Michalis A. Michael, CEO at DigitalMR, a digital market research company with proprietary platforms for social media listening and private online communities




Tom H.C. Anderson

Representing Text Analytics:

Tom H. C. Anderson, Founder Anderson Analytics – OdinText a Next Generation Text Analytics solution




Mark Michelson

Representing Mobile Market Research:>

Mark Michelson, CEO Threads Strategic Research & Consulting, and Executive Director MMRA (Mobile Marketing Research Association)





Representing MROCs (Marketing Research Online Communities):

Niels Schillewaert, PhD. Managing Partner and Founder InSites Consulting, a new generation agency stretching boundaries of marketing research and helping global brands become locally relevant




Steve Genco

Representing Neuromarketing:

Steve Genco, Managing Partner, Intuitive Consumer Insights and lead author, Neuromarketing for Dummies



Greenbook identified these five Next-Gen Research techniques as ones which have been the most disruptive and popular. Some are more popular than others and there is also some confusion in the market as to how we should name some of them; I am specifically thinking of social media monitoring which we - at DigitalMR -  prefer to call ‘social media listening’ or ‘active web listening’.

In my view, text analytics is an integral part of active web listening, so I expect to be in agreement with Tom Anderson a lot during this debate. Of course text analytics can be used on any set of unstructured data/text not necessarily coming from social media.

But then again, the same happens with MROCs which are also called private online communities or communities for insights and co-creation.  I also expect to agree with Niels Shillewaert a lot during this discussion.

Well, what about ‘mobile’; does anyone doubt that mobile will have a very important place in the future of market research? We spoke many times about our belief that short intercepts during the experience will replace long monthly trackers.

I honestly do not know if I will debate against any of the first 3 panelists about the importance of their respective fields. Having said that, what we may debate about is which methodology is most disruptive and where most MR budgets of the future will be diverted. If this is the case, then I (already) do agree with Tom when he says in his latest blog post on the same subject that it will be a bloody battle and may the best methodology win! :) 

Join us and show your active support for social media listening which is where most of the MR budgets will be spent by 2020….we have it from a very credible source! :) Stay tuned for the rest, after the debate.

Thinking, Fast and Slow: The Social Media Research Perspective

Thinking, Fast and SlowNobel laureate Kahneman has written a seminal book on the different types of thinking processes we humans deploy. In “Thinking, Fast and Slow” he argues that cognitive biases profoundly affect our daily decisions - from which toothpaste to buy, to where we should go on holiday. He goes on to claim that our decision processes can be understood only by knowing how two different thinking systems shape the way we judge and decide:

"System 1" is fast, instinctive, subconscious and emotional;

"System 2" is slower, deliberative, logical.

The book delineates cognitive biases, such as how we frame choices, loss aversion, and our tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events..  All these can throw light on fascinating facets of human judgement and thought and are posited by Kahneman to be both systematic and predictable.

Framing: Drawing different conclusions from the same information, depending on how or by whom that information is presented.

Loss aversion:  The disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it.

Gambler’s fallacy: The tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality they are unchanged.

How is this relevant to research? And why exactly should research agencies and their clients care? Well, I would argue that the basic dichotomy described in the book is critical to the existence of the market research industry. Our ability to generate insights, which in turn can only be gained through the analysis and interpretation of evidence, is key to managing a modern business – it is “system 2” thinking. Of course, one could get some things right by merely relying on intuition or gut-feeling; therein lies the caveat: get some things right. Indeed, chances are that the odds would be heavily stacked against you if you ignore facts and rely on less than rigorous or no analysis. Putting this in a different way, fast thinking is not a good way to raise your metaphorical batting average as a business.

One could certainly argue (correctly) that intuition does not occur in a vacuum – in that it often has its roots in prior experience. But testing your assumptions before going ahead with a decision is a way to avoid mistakes. Indeed, examining available evidence to inform decisions is a tried and tested way of succeeding in business. Ask Procter & Gamble  which spends hundreds of millions every year on painstakingly researching all aspects of the marketing mix.

We can draw a parallel to P&G’s B2C decision model  (based on “System 1” thinking) in which they established the “First moment of truth” which stated that there were 3-7 seconds from when the customer sees the stimulus to when they react (decide to buy). There was then a second decision (“Second moment of truth”) that customers made after the purchase; based on the negative or positive experience with the product, a decision would then be made as to whether they should continue using it/buy from this vendor again

Stimulus -> Shelf (First moment of truth) -> Self experience (Second moment of truth)

Google pointed out that the ubiquity of internet access has caused an upward trend in people (in a B2C and B2B context) after they had observed the stimulus, researching about the product/service to obtain more information before they made their first moment of truth decision; they call it the “Zero moment of truth” (ZMOT)

Stimulus -> Information (Zero moment of truth) -> Shelf (First moment of truth) -> Self experience (Second moment of truth)

Companies are now looking to the web as a solution; this should be done carefully as even using the web as a source of informing decision can lead to systematic biases (searching for what you want to see).

By analysing the zero moment of truth (sources from which customers are obtaining their information) and the first and second moments of truth of current/potential customers, (through what customers are saying online), DigitalMR serves to create an objective way to inform choices (the zero moment of truth) of decision makers of a company through tools such as social media listening, online communities and an array of other digital research tools.

 DigitalMR & ZMOT

So, fast thinking is all nice and good, deeply steeped in our evolutionary past, but when it comes to business, “system 2” slow thinking based on informed choices is the way to go, especially when dealing with big ticket decisions.

What is your view on systems 1 and 2 thinking? How many of your decisions are rooted in system 1 Vs system 2 Vs both? Please share your way of being part of the conversation during the zero moment of truth.