The Figaro Digital Monthly Digest: May 2019

by Figaro Digital

May has seen a fair few well-earned bank holiday strolls into town. As the weather gets warmer and the beer gardens get more hectic, summertime spending starts to rear its head. With the possibility of increased spending on the horizon, brands and marketers are beginning to see their well-oiled plans for the year coming to fruition, with wider political and social trends impacting the way Google and digital marketing operates.

It’s been a busy month, but that’s how it always is in the ever-changing world of marketing. Navigate the month’s news by checking out our highlights below:

The Latest Social News

Facebook Co-Founder Calls for the Platform to be Broken Up

Chris Hughes, Co-Founder of Facebook, caused quite a stir near the start of the month by stating that the social media platform should be broken up as it has too much control over the world’s communications.

Soon after, op-eds and reactions to the news were flowing, with a myriad of opinions resurrecting Facebook’s troubled history with privacy. In an op-ed published by the New York Times, Hughes lamented Facebook’s status as “a powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition from the social networking category”. Hughes called for Facebook to be broken up later in the piece, mostly due to its monopoly-like grip on not just social media, but the world of advertisement and communications.

Instagram Adds Stories to Explore Tab

Instagram’s increasing focus on its Stories feature has been consolidated by its recent decision to add them to the Explore tab.

Instagram has been tweaking Explore over the past few months, yet this is the biggest change thus far. Now, users will be able to get their less doctored, behind-the-scenes content on the Explore page, opening up new avenues for brands and influencers to diversify their output.

Since users are unable to like Stories, Instagram will curate the Stories shown in a user’s Explore page based on the pages and posts they interact with.

It looks as though Instagram has committed to interweaving Stories wherever it can, lending credence to the view that the platform is slowly transitioning into something different.

Facebook Changes Its News Feed (Again)

Facebook’s never-ending tweaking has led to another news feed change, with the platform’s newest algorithm favouring posts from close friends. For advertisements and posts from brands, Facebook will prioritise posts that it thinks you will personally resonate with.

Brands and businesses who follow good practice will be okay when the change hits, but for those relying on clickbait, this algorithm could be the beginning of the end. Really, though, if you’re still click baiting on Facebook, you’re doing it wrong.

Altogether, the algorithm change shows that the platform is serious about its refocus on personal moments and interactions.

The Latest Google News

Google is Forced to Break-Up with Huawei

The rising trade war between the United States and China has finally impacted Google, culminating in Google blocking Huawei from implementing the most recent Android updates on its phones. Huawei will only be able to use the open source variants of Android, meaning all of Huawei’s smartphones – which make up 23.6 per cent of the mobile market share in Europe – won’t be able to access YouTube, Google Play and Gmail.

Why, then, has the Trump administration forced Google’s hand? The United States government has had constant reservations about Huawei’s trustworthiness, but a recent 5G update revealed that the phone had several backdoors for the Chinese government to utilise.

Upon hearing this news, the Trump administration needed no invitation to blacklist Huawei, meaning Google, as a US company, had to follow suit. Now, both Google and Huawei are set to lose out, but how this saga will play out in the long-term remains to be seen.

Google Patents New, Unknown Device

Google has patented a new device under a new FCC filing. Little is known about the new piece of tech, except that Google has called it a “media device” under model number H2B. Apparently, this model number implies it is an extension of the Google Home line of products. The device uses a 3.6V lithium battery, so it is likely portable or is made to have a backup supply of power.

The Latest in Brands

The North Face Called Out for Wikipedia Image Ad Placement

The North Face has received a wave of criticism following unethical Wikipedia product placements. As part of the brand’s work with ad agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made, The North Face manipulated Wikipedia to show and favour ad-placement images featuring the brand. Several photographers were sent out to tourist hotspots to shoot images that featured The North Face brand, before helping get them as the official images for several key pages.

Maybe the brand would have gotten away with it too, except it announced in a self-congratulatory video that it “manipulated Wikipedia”, and that its greatest challenge was pulling this all off “without the attention of Wikipedia moderators”.

The campaign was suspended after Wikipedia volunteers removed all the images from every article and blocked the ad agency’s associated accounts. Leo Burnett’s method was to simply spam articles with The North Face images – how genius…

Wikipedia was less than impressed, dressing down the brand publically and labelling the whole incident as an “unethical […] short-lived marketing stunt”. The North Face apologised, axing the campaign with its tail between its legs.

IKEA Mimics Some of Sitcom’s Favourite Living Rooms

IKEA scored a major win by replicating television’s most popular sitcom living rooms. The relatively simple campaign consisted of IKEA furniture that replicated the well-known living rooms of Friends, The Simpsons and Stranger Things, as well as a guide on which items to purchase in order to replicate them.

The campaign got some notable links from major press sites, including The Independent and Hollywood Reporter, which is a big win for such a direct, simple campaign.

Our Favourite Campaign of the Month

Gillette Champions Transgender Rights in #MyBestSelf Campaign

Despite catching flak for its January toxic masculinity campaign, Gillette has thankfully continued its desire to get political and champion smaller communities. The #MyBestSelf campaign was supported by the short film ‘First Shave’, which stars transgender male Samson who is being taught how to shave by his father.

Throughout the video, his father offers tips, providing a captivating illustration of an oft-remembered moment for men. The video ends with the tagline: “whenever, however it happens – your first shave is special”.

The video has received a positive response on social media, particularly with the relevance of Pride Month:

In general, this campaign has been more positively received than the company’s #MeToo campaign. More importantly, this campaign shows that a brand sticking to its principles in the face of initial negativity is sometimes worth doing.

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