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Digital Digest #215: Show Us What You Got

Digital Digest: What Edelman Canada is reading in digital marketing, technology and strategy. Fresh links served up weekly. This edition of Digital Digest was edited by Caitlin StewartErin CollettCharlotte Macgregor, and Melissa Vekil.

This week’s Digital Digest tells us that brands simply aren’t paying consumers enough. Taco Bell wants to know how badly Canadians want the Dortitos Cheesy Gordita Crunch (or DCGC, if you will), Converse is displaying consumers’ Chucks as works of art and Apple’s new camera allows us all to be professional photographers. With the help of some awesome user-generated content, these brands are hitting a sweet spot.

How do you shoe?
Converse is celebrating its trademark shoe – the Chuck Taylor – by leveraging some seriously cool user-generated content. The digital showcase, titled “Made by You”, displays over 200 pairs of its classic design, customized and personalized over the years by iconic names including Andy Warhol and Patti Smith. The campaign launched through the brand’s strong social platforms, and hopes to show people what they’ve created and to generate stories, rather than launch a boxed marketing effort. Though the shoes have been around for 98 (!) years, this campaign comes on the tail of the brand’s strong recent growth, proving that while everyone may own a pair, they’re still your very own work of art. [Ad Age] Nordstrom, mentioned in this article, is a competitor to Edelman client, LOFT.

To build awareness for the launch of its Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch in Canada, Taco Bell challenged its fans to show off their loyalty to the brand. When DCGC was first introduced in the U.S., Canadian fans were outspoken about wanting to be able to buy it here. The #proveit campaign was launched exclusively on social media and invited fans to share evidence proving just how excited they were for the DCGC’s arrival. Many submitted text message screen shots and the more hardcore supporters even asked stores for security footage to prove they were ahead of the DCGC crowd. Taco Bell chose three lucky winners to visit its headquarters in California, including its famous test kitchen where the DCGC idea was born. This campaign can teach brands an important lesson about engagement; do you have a passionate and engaged fan base? Use them! Give your audience the opportunity to be part of the conversation and show them you care about what they have to say. You might just earn your brand supporters for life. [Marketing Mag] Taco Bell mentioned in this article is an Edelman client and a competitor to Edelman client, Arby’s. 

Hit me with your best shot
Apple is asking iPhone 6 owners to prove the phone’s camera is professional quality. For its latest campaign, Apple has pulled incredible photos taken by 77 contributors and is showcasing them in the digital World Gallery, print and billboards. Each photo in the gallery is accompanied by a photography tip to help others achieve similar results. The photos are so amazing – it’s almost unbelievable that they were taken on a cell phone! Apple is often quick to remind us that the iPhone we bought six months ago is outdated and this campaign nails that reminder. Furthermore, the brand leveraged already existing, real user content, making the campaign credible, and encourages consumers to try the camera out themselves for similar results. These user-generated flicks create a level of authenticity you can’t pay for, and has us running out to the Apple store to try our hand at photography. [AdWeek] iPhone mentioned in this article is a competitor to Edelman client, Samsung.
Tech Updates

Edelman Canada’s Digital Digest is a weekly bundle of links, served up on Edelman Canada’s Our Ideas blog. It’s also available by email. If you know someone who would like to be added to the mailing list, have any questions or just want to share some thoughts on anything you read here, email me. Let’s get a conversation going.

March 6, 2015 by in Digital Digest, Our Ideas | 0 comments

Canada, Hostile Takeover Bids and Effective Communications

A version of this article originally appeared on Edelman.com

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Within the next six weeks, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) is expected to table for comment proposed changes to the rules governing unsolicited or hostile takeover bids. The new rules, first announced in September 2014, are intended to give the boards of target companies more time to respond to hostile bids by requiring that a bid remain open for at least 120 days (up from the current minimum of just 35 days).

This change is part of what has been described as a “rebalancing” of power in Canada between hostile bidders and the companies they target. It follows additional changes put forward by the CSA in 2013 that would provide boards with greater flexibility in using shareholder rights plans to defend against hostile bids.

Despite these proposed changes, Canadian companies are still more vulnerable to hostile takeovers than their U.S. counterparts, who have greater ability to reject unwanted overtures.

In Canada, a targeted company can use a rights plan, also known as a poison pill, to stall a bidder and buy time to identify a better alternative for its shareholders. Last year, Osisko Mining Corp. successfully fought off a $2.6 billion bid from Goldcorp after it was able to secure a competing offer that delivered far greater value, $3.9 billion. By comparison, the U.S. model defers to the business judgment of the target board and allows a poison pill to stay in place far longer.

Still, if a targeted Canadian company does not surface an alternative quickly, often within three months, a bidder will then apply to a provincial securities regulator to have the rights plan removed; this opens the door for shareholders to decide the fate of their company. Such was the case in 2013, when shareholders of Inmet Mining Corporation accepted First Quantum Minerals’ first and only unsolicited offer after the Inmet board was unable to surface a superior alternative after 90 days.

According to the 2014 Canadian Hostile Bid Study prepared by the law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, companies targeted with a hostile bid in Canada remain independent only 22 percent of the time (based on a review of hostile transactions above $50 million from 2006 to 2013). The same study revealed that the initial bidder (as opposed to a white knight) is successful in acquiring the target roughly 50 percent of the time.

If you’re a Canadian public company concerned about a hostile bid, you won’t like those odds.

Even with the CSA’s proposed changes, Canadian public company boards need to be mindful of hostile bid risk and prepare accordingly. This includes ensuring that they have appropriate defensive measures in place, including an approved shareholder rights plan and a team of advisors that has a depth of hostile defense experience.

Communications can also play a critical role in enabling a targeted company to respond quickly and effectively to an unsolicited bid:

  • Proactively communicate with your shareholders: It’s always good practice to know who your large holders are, what price they bought into your stock at and what their intentions and expectations are. In the context of a hostile bid, this is critical.
  • Invest in your story: Hostile takeover battles, like proxy contests, are about competing visions; it comes down to who articulates the clearest or the quickest path to value. If your shareholders understand your plan before a hostile bid surfaces, they will be more inclined to factor that into their evaluation of a bid. Conversely, if you are making your case to a large shareholder for the first time after receiving a bid, you’ve made your task considerably more difficult.
  • Anticipate your vulnerabilities: Hostile bidders will seek any advantage they can get, including attacking the merits of your strategy, as a way to make their bid seem more attractive by comparison. It’s a common “carrot and stick” approach – highlight the value on offer while casting doubt on the target’s ability to deliver on its plan over time. The more work you can do in advance to anticipate and prepare to address likely challenges, the stronger your defense will be.
  • Consider employees and other non-financial stakeholders: Hostile takeover defenses can be all consuming for a management team and board; everyone is focused on thwarting the unwanted bid and/or securing an alternative. Often lost in this fury are employees, customers, partners and other key stakeholders in the business. When preparing a hostile takeover defense, it is important to account for these groups and ensure plans are in place to keep employees engaged, customers retained and vendors and business partners onside.
  • Prepare first responses: Hostile bids seldom come out of nowhere; they are often preceded by more diplomatic overtures. That said, target companies can sometimes have only days to prepare an initial public defense. There are certain first response tools – press releases, scripts and stakeholder communications – that can be prepared in advance to help a target respond quickly and confidently to notice of an unwanted bid and, in the process, lay the foundation for a strong defense.

2014 saw the return of the hostile takeover bid in Canada, particularly in the mining industry. While the proposed changes by the CSA will make Canada less “bidder-friendly”, hostile takeover risk will remain a fact of life for many Canadian public companies. They need to plan accordingly, and shareholder communications needs to be an integral part of that process.

March 4, 2015 by in Our Ideas | 0 comments

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