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The Best Marketing Stories of the Week, Dec. 9-13

Marketing News Staff

weekly roundup image, orange background

This week, we’re reading about AdAge’s Marketer of the Year, how advertisers target children online, misleading marketing from the University of Pheonix, funny chatbots and when brands steal jokes (less funny)

Procter & Gamble Named AdAge Marketer of the Year

First citing P&G’s dire state only two years ago, AdAge named the consumer goods company as its marketer of the year. “[I]t’s put out notable creative in the past year that includes original productions from James Corden and John Legend for SK-II and Pampers, while embracing risks and taking social media heat for ads from Gillette and My Black Is Beautiful that take controversial stances on gender and race relations,” AdAge wrote. The article also applauds P&G’s use of methods typical of direct-to-consumer startups, such as rolling out new brands and ideas directly to users and responding to results.

Read more: AdAge

Brands Are Stealing People’s Jokes

Some brands are turning to tactics used by online meme aggregators: Screenshotting viral jokes (usually from Twitter), removing the names and handles of those who wrote them and posting the media on Instagram. For example, skin care brand Drunk Elephant has posted jokes like “I miss the 90s, when bread was good for you, and no one knew what kale was.” Internet users have begun to turn against content thieves, and brands have begun to attribute their jokes in some way. One comic whose work was used by Drunk Elephant says she wasn’t contact by the company before it used her viral joke, but it did tag her on the post. “I really didn’t get anything out of it—I didn’t get followers, I didn’t get moisturizer,” the comic said.

Read more: The Atlantic

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FTC Asked to Investigate How Advertisers Target Children Online

Pediatricians and consumer advocates are asking the FTC to investigate how children’s data is collected online, as concerns grow over the way advertisers may be manipulating the population with targeted ads. In a document signed by 31 groups, the letter says that “not enough is understood about these new methods of surveilling and monetizing children, or the impact that it has on their privacy and wellbeing.” The groups are asking the FTA to gather information on how companies use children’s data, how companies such as Instagram recognize child users and whether existing privacy rules are effective.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

Chatbots Make Excellent Salespeople When They’re Funny

via GIPHY

Experts agree that chatbots will soon be ubiquitous among voice assistants such as Alexa, and will become one of the chief ways by which consumers interact with brands. But some tech companies are realizing that chatbots are only as effective as they are conversationalists. As a way to develop more engaging experiences with consumers, they are hiring comedy-training programs to instill chatbots with a bit of humor and levity. Funny chatbots trained in the art of improv comedy are far easier to talk to and therefore are more trusted by consumers, leading to increased sales—a lucrative industry expected to reach $112 billion by 2023.

Read more: Marketplace

Debt Relief for Students Misled by University of Phoenix Marketing

Roughly $141 million of student debt has been canceled by the University of Phoenix after losing a lawsuit filed by the FTC over its misleading and, at times, blatantly fraudulent marketing campaign. The for-profit online university claimed that its strong partnerships with industry titans such as Microsoft and Twitter would benefit its students by offering tailored curriculum and job opportunities—when, in fact, these partnerships did not exist. The settlement specifically targets students who enrolled between the years 2012-2016, all of whom were persuaded to take classes largely due to this marketing campaign. This lawsuit is not the first to be filed against for-profit universities; previously, DeVry Education Group and Career Education Corporation came under fire for similarly misleading claims.

Read more: New York Times